By Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN
Jeremy Bertino, a top lieutenant to Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in federal court on Thursday, and is cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation into the far-right extremist group.
Bertino, 43, will also plead guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He is the first member of the Proud Boys to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy — a major boost to the historic prosecution of the far right organization.
He could spend more than five years in prison, according to his plea agreement, which was read aloud in court, though prosecutors could ask a judge for a lesser sentence depending on his level of cooperation with the investigation.
Bertino was listed in previous indictments as “PERSON-1,” but has not publicly faced charges. He is not alleged to have been in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. Prosecutors have previously outlined his involvement in Proud Boys leadership and extensive planning meetings and chats.
Even though he was not present for the Capitol riot, Bertino could provide crucial testimony for prosecutors in the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial, which is set to begin in December of this year.
He has also testified to the House select committee investigating January 6, and a clip of his testimony was played in one of the committee’s public hearings.
Bertino also may be eligible for witness protection, according to his plea agreement.
Tarrio has pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy charges.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.