Three sentenced to prison for Whitmer kidnap plot

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Age: 65
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Location: Long Island, New York

15 Dec 2022, 7:25 pm

Three of the men involved in the plot to kidnap Michigan governor sentenced to prison

A judge on Thursday handed down the longest prison terms so far in the plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor, sentencing three men who forged an early alliance with a leader of the scheme before the FBI broke it up in 2020.

Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar were not charged with having a direct role in the conspiracy but were members of a paramilitary group that trained with Adam Fox, who separately faces a possible life sentence on Dec. 27 for his federal conviction.

The trio was convicted in October of providing material support for a terrorist act, which carries a maximum term of 20 years, and two other crimes.

Musico was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison, followed by his son-in-law Morrison at 10 years and Bellar at seven. They will be eligible for parole after serving those terms.

Speaking in a recorded video, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged the judge to “impose 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, who added that she now scans crowds for threats and worries “about the fate of everyone near me.”

The trial in state court was separate from a prosecution in federal court where two leaders, Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were convicted of a kidnapping conspiracy. Two more men pleaded guilty and two others were acquitted.

Musico, 45, Morrison, 28, and Bellar, 24, were members of a paramilitary group known as the Wolverine Watchmen. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was never physically harmed by the plot.

Musico and Morrison will be eligible for parole after serving their minimum sentences. The maximum they can held in prison would be 42 years under state law.

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