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Militia members in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot get 7+ years in prison

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/TNS)
December 15, 2022

Three militia members have been sentenced to years in prison for their involvement in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as two others wait to receive possible life sentences.

The men are set to serve a total of at least 29 years in prison between the three of them, the Associated Press reported. Their most serious charge was providing material support for a terrorist act, but they were also convicted of gang membership and a firearms charge.

The three men are: 

  • Pete Musico, 45, sentenced to at least 12 years;
  • Musico’s son-in-law Joseph Morrison, 28, sentenced to at least 10 years;
  • Paul Bellar, 24, sentenced to at least seven years.

The men were members of a militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen, which plotted to kidnap Whitmer in 2020, largely over her pandemic lockdown policies. At least 12 FBI informants were in on the plan, the New York Times reported, which was broken up in October 2020 with 14 arrests before the governor was ever harmed.

According to AP, the three sentenced men attended gun training with the militia’s leader, and ABC News reported social media posts by each man threatening violence against Whitmer. They were pictured standing with rifles in the Michigan capitol building during a protest over pandemic lockdowns, ABC reported.

In their defense, attorneys argued that the three left the militia before the plot got into gear, and that they didn’t participate in a key training session or a search for Whitmer’s second home, AP reported.

In a recorded video, Whitmer called for a sentence “that meets the gravity of the damage they have done to our democracy.”

“A conspiracy to kidnap and kill a sitting governor of the state of Michigan is a threat to democracy itself,” said Whitmer. She said she’s more worried about threats now and fears for “the fate of everyone near me,” AP reported.

Two other men were convicted in August as the ringleaders of the plot. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. They face up to life in prison at their sentencing hearings in two weeks, AP reported.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.