In the Spotlight
By Alicia Powe Mar. 2, 2023
From The Gateway Pundit
The government’s case against the Proud Boys fell apart this week as their star witness repeatedly vowed under oath that there was no conspiracy or plan ever established by the defendants — Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola — to violently disrupt the election certification that was taking place inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The Department of Justice alleges leaders of the Proud Boys conspired to violently overthrow the government during the protest in an effort “to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the Electoral College vote, and to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States.”
The group’s former national leaders, Tarrio and Biggs, committed no act of violence on January 6. Tarrio did not go to the rally, nor was he in Washington, DC. Decorated Army veteran Joe Biggs walked into the Capitol building twice for approximately 25 minutes in total, including to use the restroom. The only defendant that was seen acting violently is Pezzolla who is seen in footage exhibited during the trial banging on a window. The government claims Tarrio, Biggs and Nordean orchestrated the J6 “insurrection” while Rehl, Pezolla, and the other Proud Boys members followed orders and executed the mission.
According to the DOJ, the defendants organized an attack against “the heart of our democracy” akin to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor to prevent the lawful transfer of presidential power.
“On Jan. 6, 2021, the defendants directed, mobilized, and led members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to dismantlFinterFng of metal barricades, destruction of property, breaching of the Capitol building, and assaults on law enforcement. During and after the attack, Tarrio and his co-defendants claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room,” according to the Department of Justice.
The government has collected vast amounts of evidence in the case, including more than 500,000 encrypted text messages. Yet, investigators never found a smoking gun that shows the Proud Boys plotted to help Trump remain in office and have no evidence indicating the five defendants worked together to violently subvert the democratic process.
Instead, the prosecution is relying on Jeremy Bertino, the only former Proud Boy who has pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges, to make their case. Bertino has repeatedly lied to the FBI during interviews with agents in March and June 2022 and the January 6 Committee, and repeatedly lied under oath during his five-day cross-examination in the seditious conspiracy trial.
Despite pleading guilty to seditious conspiracy, the government’s key witness, Bertino, insisted throughout a five-day cross-examination that there was no plan; the Proud Boys never conspired to do anything illegal on January 6 and never devised a strategy to stop lawmakers from certifying the results of the election.
In interviews with the FBI, Bertino repeatedly explained that he never even fathomed the January 6 protests would escalate to some sort of insurrection.
“In my head…I”ve been to a hundred rallies — not a hundred by many, you know what I mean — I’ve never seen people act like that. Never thought for a second that was going to happen,” Bertino previously told the bureau according to transcripts of the exchange exhibited by Tarrio’s attorney Nayib Hassan.
After scouring through all the evidence, defense attorneys confirmed Tarrio’s only plan on January 6 was to deliver a speech on stage for Trump, but he instead stayed home. When pressed about Tarrio’s plans for January 6, Bertino once again insisted he and Tarrio never discussed any plan and he was not aware Tarrio was invited to speak.
HASSAN: Enrique never discussed with you any plan for Jan. 6, correct?
BERTINO: Uh. Never,
HASSAN: Well, he spoke to you about speaking at stages for Trump.. You weren’t aware that Blanca Garcia [Latinos for Trump] gave Tarrio a VIP pass to speak on stage on January 6?
BERTINO: I was not.
HASSAN: You didn’t know what was going on subsequent to speaking at the stage?
BERTINO: Correct. I didn’t know what the plan was.
Bertino would be languishing in solitary confinement and facing at least 50 years in prison, including a statutory maximum of 20 years for seditious conspiracy, along with the members of the Proud Boys he previously called friends had he not cooperated with the government.
In addition to the seditious conspiracy charges, Bertino is facing up to 10 years for unlawful possession of firearms. In 2004, he was convicted of a felony and barred from using firearms. On March 8, federal agents discovered six firearms, including an AR-15 style firearm with a scope, and more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition while executing a court-authorized search of his South Carolina home. Bertino maintained during cross-examination that had not handled a firearm following his conviction.
When pressed on Monday by Carmen Hernandez, an attorney representing Zachary Rehl, on whether he has held firearms since his conviction, Bertino insisted he had not. Moments later he was caught in a lie. Stunned when Hernandez showcased recent photographs of Bertino assisting a young girl with holding a firearm and another of him watching a young boy hold an AR-15, Bertino still insisted he had not fired a weapon and those were his girlfriend’s guns. Herandez then exhibited recent text messages confirming Bertino spent time firing guns at the shooting range.
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Norm Pattis, the attorney representing decorated Army veteran Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs slammed Bertino during cross-examination for repeatedly lying under oath and “betraying men who went to the Capitol to protest” in exchange for a lighter sentence while admitting there was no seditious plan:
PATTIS: Who elected you to represent the American people?
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PATTIS: You thought you’d have to stop a coup?
BERTINO: I don’t think anybody ever specifically said it like that.
PATTIS: That’s something you made up?
BERTINO: We came to Washington to take the country back from the crooked politicians.
PATTIS: What the hell does that mean?
BERTINO: It means exactly what I said
PATTIS: It doesn’t mean anything…Which one of you geniuses was going to take over that part of the country? Who would be the Attorney General? Secretary of Commerce? Department of Transportation?
BERTINO: The goal was to stop the steal. But I didnt have the plan.
PATTIS: What’s a fair sentence for you in your case for what you’ve done?
BERTINO: That’s not up for me to decide that’s up for the judge to decide. I just want a fair sentence.
PATTIS: The truth doesn’t change from day to day?
BERTIONO: I don’t think so
PATTIS: But many times you spoke to government it changed. It depends on what you need?
BERTINO: It just changed with what I was willing to come forward with
PATTIS: And to get what you want, you were willing to betray men who went to the Capitol to protest because they didn’t go far enough…to satisfy you?
BERTINO: I wouldn’t say that.
PATTIS: And had you not been at home doped up on oxys and 150 staples in your chest you would have been there?
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Pattis pressed Bertino on whether he spoke to Nordean, Rehl, Pezzola or Biggs by phone on Jan 6 and he replied ‘No’ to all. Bertino replied, “No,” to all. indicating, again, there was no seditious directive given to act violently to the group.
Bertino testified that he felt betrayed by Tarrio after he was convinced by an undercover FBI agent that Tarrio authored the “1776 Returns” document. As the Gateway Pundit has reported, 1776 returns is the title of a document that outlined strategic plans for the takeover of the US government building on January 6, 2021. According to a Motion submitted this past Friday by a Proud Boys attorney, the government authored the mysterious document.
Defense attorneys further established the FBI’s role created the document in a bid to frame Tarrio during the cross-examination of Bertino.
Bertino’s house was raided when he was at work on March 8 and he was apprehended by the FBI. The next day, Bertino met with AUSA Erik Kenerson and FBI Agent Nicole Miller and officer Katherine Bowles .Hassan, Tarrio’s attorney pressed Bertino on whether he was aware the government created the 1776 Return plans for January 6.
HASSAN: 1776 Returns, they told you Tarrio created the document, correct?
BERTINO: I believe they did say something to that effect. Yes.
HASSAN: Prosecutors told you he created it and made some redactions
BERTINO: That sounds familiar
HASSAN: Was Kenerson in the room?
HASSAN: Nicole Miller was the agent who said Tarrio created the document?
BERTINO: I believe so
HASSAB: But you don’t know in fact if Tarrio created the document and [the government ] misled you?
BERTINO: I don’t know that….
While Bertino claimed he and Tarrio were “good friends” prior to January 6, the defense argued Bertino has a motive to testify against Tarrio because he harbors malice and jealousy against the group’s leader.
Bertino disparaged Tarrio in his correspondence about the Proud Boys leader in dozens of text messages with other members of the group. Tarrio’s attorneys revealed that Bertino repeatedly referred to Tarrio as a “brown f-ggot” and “the n-word.” Bertino maintains he was only “trolling” Tarrio when referring to him by derogatory slurs.
Hassan argued Berti showcased a text to the jury a text where Bertino refers to Henry Tarrio as the n-word and warned Bertino called Tarrio a “brown f–got” or “f–got” more than two dozen times,
HASSAN: You called Tarrio the n-word over 36 times?
BERTINO: it’s very possible, its a common nickname for him
HASSAN: You understand he’s afro-cuban?
HASSAN: Did Tarrio rebuke you or condemn you when you made those statements?
When pressed by the government prosecutor Erik Kennerson about why he used of racial slurs to describe Tarrio, Bertino claimed he used the slurs as a “term of endearment.”
KENNERSON: Sometimes used the N words to refer to Tarrrio, right?
KENNERSON: You proud of that now?
BERTINO: Not at all.
KENNERSON: Did you view those as a slur?
BERTINO: No I meant it as a term of endearment at that point.
BERTINO: If you feel that much about somebody and call them the worse of the worse, it’s a brotherhood, feel like brothers.
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The defense team also revealed that Bertino received at least $12,000 from the government once he agreed to cooperate. They also presented evidence that resulted in Bertino admitting he used approximately $65,000 received in donations he received from the public after getting stabbed to buy a corporate truck and start his own business.
Tarrio, Biggs, Nordean, Rehl and Pezzolla face up to 80 years in prison. They are isolated in twelve-by-four concrete cells and prohibited from the general population of the jail because they are deemed by the government domestic terrorists akin to Osama Bin Laden. Biggs and another defendant on trial, who asked his name be withheld, told The Gateway Pundit that they are freezing while in solitary confinement because the guards turn the air conditioner down to frigid temperatures throughout the winter so their cells remain below 30 degrees. They also described how they starve unless they resort to eating rotten meat, moldy processed food, or bags of chips. They and their families are struggling to afford exorbitant legal fees and some of their attorneys are forfeiting their income to stay on the case.
At a Stop The Steal rally in Washington DC on Dec. 12, 2020, Tarrio and Bertino were stabbed. Following the incident, Tarrio, known as Noble Leader within the group, created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the “Ministry of Self Defense.” Not a single exchange between Tarrio and members of the MOSD corroborates the government’s allegations that Tarrio influenced or conspired with the group to storm the capitol or oppose by force the authority of the government.
Bertino and members of the Proud Boys are seen bantering about politics in numerous screenshots of the group’s Telegram chats exhibited during cross-examination. Tarrio’s message to the MOSD in the group chat of January 6 was concise.
“It will be calm,” he told MOSD a screenshot of the exchange exhibited by Hassan.