Three men are likely headed to prison for quite some time after a jury found them guilty of aiding a kidnapping plot that targeted Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
While the three suspects didn’t actually come up with the plot, prosecutors believe Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico and Paul Bellar, provided support and materials to the plot’s masterminds, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, while they were all members of the paramilitary group, Wolverine Watchmen.
As they prepared for the kidnapping, Morrison, Musico, and Bellar participated in gun drills in rural Jackson County, Michigan, where they could practice their shooting skills and go over how they’d pull off the abduction with Fox. The men hoped that kidnapping Whitmer would spark a “boogaloo,” which refers to a civil war prompted by the abduction of an important public figure such as a politician.
In 2020, Fox began putting his plan into action. He traveled to northern Michigan to survey the Governor’s vacation property. While there, he held weekend shooting practices nearby. Defense attorneys representing the three defendants had argued that by the time Fox began implementing his plot, they’d already cut ties with him. However, prosecutors have argued that they “sought out terrorists, and when they found them, they trained them.”
Thankfully, the plan was foiled by undercover agents posing as members of the extremist group. The scheme was busted in October 2020 and resulted in 14 arrests. Fox and Croft were found guilty of kidnapping conspiracy in August. They are awaiting sentencing.
Whitmer, a Democrat, attracted widespread hate after she slammed former President Donald Trump for fueling mistrust surrounding the COVID-19 restrictions. She also called him out for failing to condemn right-wing extremist groups, such as the Wolverine Watchmen. Trump questioned the validity of the kidnapping plan, calling it a “fake deal.”
Morrison, Musico, and Bellar were convicted of a long list of charges, including gang membership, providing material support for terrorist acts, and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony. All three will be sentenced in December.