A member of the far-right Proud Boys, Jeremy Bertino, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a charge of seditious conspiracy over his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, making him the first member of the group to do so.
Six other members, including former Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio, are due to stand trial beginning in December on charges including seditious conspiracy, which carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Bertino also pleaded guilty to a gun charge.
“Guilty, your honor,” Bertino said when asked if he was pleading guilty to both of charges.
His guilty plea comes as the first seditious conspiracy trial of Donald Trump supporters charged with organizing the Capitol assault is underway. That trial involves five associates of the far-right Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes.
As part of his plea deal, Bertino, 43, of Belmont, North Carolina, must agree to testify before a grand jury or at trial if requested by federal prosecutors. He could face a prison sentence of up to five years, three months and a fine of up to $200,000, officials said at a virtual hearing before U.S District Court Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington.
Seditious conspiracy is a Civil War-era statute defined as two or more people plotting “to overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States” that is rarely prosecuted.
Supporters of then-President Trump, a Republican, stormed the Capitol in a failed attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden after Trump falsely claimed the election had been stolen from him. Five people died during and shortly after the riot, and about 140 police were injured.