Three men convicted of part in plot to kidnap Michigan governor News about courts

Governor Gretchen Whitmer welcomes convictions as “proof that violence and threats have no place” in American politics.

A Michigan jury has convicted three men for their roles in a 2020 plot to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico and Paul Bellar were found guilty Wednesday of gang membership, firearms violations and providing material support to “terrorism” as members of a paramilitary group. They can face up to 20 years in prison.

“These statements are further proof that violence and threats have no place in our politics,” Whitmer tweeted after the verdict.

“Hear me now loud and clear: I will not let anyone stand in the way of the work we do,” she said.

The 2020 plot, planned by a group known as “Wolverine Watch,” raised concerns about the growing threat from far-right organizations in the US.

Musico, Bellar and Morrison were among more than a dozen people arrested in connection with the plan to kidnap Whitmer amid anger over public health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which prosecutors said became a recruiting gift for far – correct groups.

Prosecutors said the group hoped the kidnapping would lead to mass violence.

Two men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr, were also convicted in August for their roles in the scheme. Two other defendants, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, were acquitted last spring, and Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks both pleaded guilty.

Morrison and Musico were accused of conducting tactical training on their property in a remote part of Michigan. Bellar was charged with providing plans for tactical maneuvers, code language for secret communications and ammunition.

The defense had argued that by the end of the summer of 2020, the three men had severed ties with the main perpetrators of the plot and had not participated in attempts to scout the governor’s home or train in a “shooting house” with those who intended to carry out the kidnapping.

“In this country you can talk, but you will only be convicted if you go ahead,” Musico’s attorney, Kareem Johnson, said in his closing remarks.

The defense also attacked the methods of Dan Chappel, an informant who, in conjunction with the FBI, infiltrated the Wolverines.

Prosecutors argued that Morrison, Musico and Bellar were members of a militia group that planned to break into the governor’s vacation home, kidnap her at gunpoint and give her a mock trial for treason.

“The facts are slowly trickling out,” state assistant attorney general Bill Rollstin told the jurors in Jackson, Michigan, “and you start to see — wow — things happening that people knew about.

“When you see how close Adam Fox got to the governor, you can see how a very bad event was thwarted.”

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