Alt-right podcaster Joseph Paul Berger accused of ‘arsenal’ of machine guns
A Pennsylvania man who hosts an anti-government podcast called “Alt-Right Armory,” on which he encouraged listeners to target “not just the police, but ‘lawmakers, lobbyists and leftist billionaires’ for assassination with explosives,” is accused of “hoarding an arsenal of fully automatic machine guns,” according to court documents.
Joseph Paul Berger, a 32-year-old Navy veteran who lives with his parents in Bethlehem Township, was arrested Feb. 7 by federal agents who say they found 13 unregistered machine guns and 12 illegal silencers in a locked room in key in the basement of the family house. The cache included, among other models, eight AK-style rifles, two C308 .308 Winchester caliber rifles, two MP5K submachine guns and one RPK-style machine gun, according to a custody note filed by prosecutors.
The weapons were tested by a laboratory expert from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), who “determined that each weapon had been modified, after purchase, to make it capable of fully automatic fire,” the filing reads. .
Berger’s father, Joseph Raymond Berger, 67, was arrested along with his son. The two men stored the weapons in a locked basement that only they had access to, prosecutors said. Their attorney, Eric E. Winter, did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, and no one answered the phone at the Bergers’ home on Friday.
Young Berger, who works as a certified gunsmith and machinist and has no criminal record, ‘regularly espouses anti-government and anti-law enforcement views’, the government argued in a motion against bail of Shepherd. “For example, in the pilot episode of the Alt-Right Armory, the defendant notes that “a white man with a gun can be very dangerous to the system indeed if he has the right motivation.” Eric Frein and fantasizes about the cost a group of people like Frein could incur,” the motion continues, noting that in 2014, Frein murdered a Pennsylvania state trooper in an ambush before fleeing. subsequently captured, convicted and sentenced to death.
Berger and his co-host “quietly assert that the discussion is ‘prank’ and ‘playful thinking,’ and they do not advocate violence, but it is clear that the discussions are serious,” the filing states.
On his show, prosecutors pointed out, Berger goes by the nickname “GlockDoctor1488,” which begins with what appears to be a nod to the 14-word slogan used by neo-Nazis that states, “We must guarantee the existence of our people and a future for white children. In white supremacist circles, “88” is the code for “Heil Hitler,” because “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center In 2019, Berger allegedly disrupted an event at a Philadelphia public library where former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke while shouting, “Fuck you, you anti-white shit! You will not replace us!
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security warned that the upcoming midterm elections could trigger a wave of violence from domestic extremists.
The investigation into Berger began in January 2021, when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officers intercepted three packages entering the United States from China. . They were addressed to Berger and contained unregistered silencers. Two of the mufflers were accompanied by paperwork including Berger’s cellphone number, the government detention memo said.
Based on the seizure of the mufflers, the feds obtained a search warrant for Berger’s home. There they seized the 13 machine guns as well as 12 silencers.
But the raid did not stop Berger, prosecutors say. In the months leading up to his arrest, Berger “acquired additional firearms on at least two occasions,” the detention memo says, adding that when Berger was arrested this week, officers confiscated five more guns that they found inside the house.
Officers also discovered a 3D printer on a table, with the components needed to build so-called ghost guns, which have no serial numbers and are virtually untraceable.
In court Thursday, Winter argued that Berger never incited violence in real life and defended his client’s views as political expression.
To that end, the government’s memorandum on detention concluded: “While the views of the accused do not form the basis of these charges, they do provide strong evidence of his anti-government ethos. Based on these views, it is highly unlikely that the accused would abide by or comply with the conditions of release set by this Court, making him a danger to the community and a flight risk. This risk is compounded by the fact that the defendant has never faced criminal charges, let alone the serious federal charges he now faces here. The only way to ensure that the community is protected and that the accused appears at trial is to detain him.
Both Bergers have pleaded not guilty.
“This kind of firepower is incredibly dangerous if it’s in the wrong hands,” Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI William S. Walker said in a statement. “HSI Philadelphia was pleased to work alongside our partners on this important investigation to ensure that the defendants are held accountable for their crimes and are not in a position to terrorize this community or any other.”
Investigating Judge Pamela Carlos ordered Berger’s detention pending trial. Her father was released on $25,000 bail. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.