Want to know what a criminal is? Jeremy Bertino was in the inner circle of domestic terrorists, the Proud Boys. Yesterday he plead guilty to seditious conspiracy in connection with the J-6 insurrection and Trump's attempted coup. Bertino, who is 43 years old, is now expected to become a witness for the DOJ in the prosecution of the cases against the 4 other Proud Boys leaders who have been charged with sedition.
At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington, Bertino pleaded guilty to that count and to one count of illegal possession of firearms as a formerly convicted felon, punishable by 51 to 63 months in prison at sentencing under advisory federal guidelines, prosecutors said.
From December 2020 to January 2021, Bertino “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with” the Proud Boys leaders “and other persons known and unknown, to oppose by force the authority of the Government of the United States and to delay by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of power,” the two-page charging document alleges.
In a sign of the sensitivity and potential importance of Bertino’s testimony, prosecutors agreed that if he provides “substantial cooperation,” they would seek leniency at sentencing and could enter Bertino into a Justice Department witness protection program.
Bertino held a place in the top inner circle of Proud Boys leaders accused of conspiring to impede Congress with angry Trump supporters as lawmakers met to confirm the election results. Bertino’s home in North Carolina was searched in March at the same time that Tarrio was arrested on charges that he and at least four others “directed, mobilized and led” a crowd of 200 to 300 supporters onto Capitol grounds. Many in that crowd are accused of leading some of the earliest and most aggressive attacks on police and property.
At the time of the search, Bertino allegedly possessed two pistols, a shotgun, bolt-action rifle and two semiautomatic AR-15 style rifles with scopes. Bertino was convicted in 2004 of first-degree reckless endangerment in New York state, a felony, and sentenced to five years of probation with a period of local jail time, according to court filings.
Bertino’s testimony could implicate Tarrio, a former aide to GOP strategist Roger Stone, and co-defendant Joe Biggs, a former employee online Infowars show host Alex Jones. Stone and Jones are two prominent right-wing figures who promoted Trump’s incendiary and baseless assertions that the election was stolen.
You know what’s not a criminal? Most Americans (68%)— including most Republicans (56%)— people convicted on non-violent marijuana charges. And Biden agrees. He pardoned people convicted of marijuana possession under federal law (around 6,500 people and thousands more who were convicted of possession in the District of Columbia). This comes after a solid heart-to-heart he had with John Fetterman on the subject. Even better, he “said his administration would review whether marijuana should still be a Schedule 1 drug like heroin and LSD, saying that ‘makes no sense.’… Biden urged governors to follow his lead for people convicted on state charges of simple possession. The number of convictions under state laws vastly outnumbers those who have been charged with a violation of federal laws, limiting the overall reach of the president’s actions on Thursday. Still, the moves— which come about a month before the midterm elections— represent striking shifts for the federal government on a campaign promise that Biden made in 2020.”
The president’s executive actions move the federal government in the direction of the positions taken by some state governments, which have already reduced or eliminated the criminal punishments for simply possessing marijuana— punishments that for decades have sent people to jail.
…Marijuana is already fully legal in about 20 states, and some other states have relaxed criminal penalties, according to DISA, a large drug-testing company that tracks state laws regarding marijuana. It remains fully illegal in a handful of states.
Voters in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota will be deciding on legalization of marijuana in their states on November 8th. In most cases, if the measures pass in the voter initiatives, the Republican establishment in the states will challenge the results in court, as they have been doing for the last several years.