machine gun part
Parts of a semi-auto rifle prosecutors say Joseph Paul Berger machined to convert it into a machine gun. Credit: U.S. Justice Department

Far-Right Podcaster Gets 3 Years for Unregistered Machine Guns and Silencers

A judge sentenced a neo-Nazi podcaster and his dad to three years in prison for illegal possession of 13 machine guns and 12 silencers.

A federal judge sentenced a neo-Nazi podcaster to three years in prison for possession of unregistered machine guns and silencers. According to last week's announcement, 35-year-old Joseph Paul Berger pleaded guilty to the illegal possessing 13 machine guns and 12 silencers.

In a statement, Jacqueline C. Romero, the U.S. attorney, described the case as an example of how federal gun laws exist to protect public safety. "Abide by those regulations and you're good to go. But if, like the Bergers, you brazenly flout them by illegally possessing dangerous items like fully automatic machine guns and silencers, expect to be held accountable for your actions," she said.

Legal experts say due to the danger they pose, the federal National Firearms Act requires anyone who owns a machine gun, silencer, short-barreled long gun, and a firearm deemed any other weapon to register the item with the federal government.

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The Bergers and their machine guns

According to court documents, federal agents started investigating Berger after intercepting three packages from China containing firearm silencers. All the packages were addressed to his Pennsylvania home and contained his phone number.

Following that seizure, agents obtained a search warrant for the house. That's where they recovered 12 silencers and 13 machine guns. Through their investigation, agents learned that the Berger bought three of the guns and his father bought the other 10.

Investigators also conducted forensic testing and determined that all of the machine guns started as semi-autos. They argued in court that Berger modified the weapons by milling or grinding off parts of the receiver to convert them for full-auto fire.

Joseph Paul Berger's podcast

Although Berger did not have a criminal record, investigators learned that he was a certified armorer and machinist with experience working on firearms in the military. He also hosted the rightwing podcast "Alt-Right Armory" and the way prosecutors described the show was unsettling.

Investigators say Berger used the moniker "GlockDoctor1488. While the term "Glock" refers to a firearm brand, the numbers tacked onto the end refer to coded signal common among neo-Nazis. The "14" represents a hateful quote and the "88" salutes Adolf Hitler.

Prosecutors argued that Berger used his podcast to extoll "the values of police murderer Eric Frein," the person who ambushed and murdered a Pennsylvania state trooper murdered in 2014. They added that in the pilot episode of the podcast, Berger said that a "white man with a rifle can be very dangerous to the system indeed if he has the right motivation." They argued that Berger's view might not be criminal, but they define his character.

The judge sentenced Berger's father, Joseph Raymond Berger, to three years of supervised release.