Whitmer kidnapping supporters convicted by jury

The three militia members were charged under Michigan’s Anti-Terrorism Act

click to enlarge From left, Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico - Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center
Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center
From left, Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico

A jury on Wednesday convicted three men of aiding a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Following a three-week trial, Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison, and Pete Musico were found guilty of providing support for a terrorist act. As members of the Wolverine Watchman militia, they were also convicted of being in a gang.

They were accused of helping Adam Fox and Barry Croft, the ringleaders who were convicted in federal court of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Bellar, Morrison, and Musico face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced on Dec. 15.

“These defendants believed violence was an appropriate way to address an ideological grievance,” James A. Tarasca, special agent in charge for the FBI’s Detroit Filed Office, said in a statement. “Today’s verdict sends a clear message they were wrong. Violence is never the answer, and the FBI remains committed to investigating and holding accountable anyone who seeks to further an ideological cause through violence.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel, who filed the charges against the three men, said the defendants were serious about the plot, and law enforcement’s actions to stop them “saved lives.”

“This office will not sit idly by and watch while armed terrorists plan acts of civil unrest with the intent of causing mayhem and murder,” Nessel said. “These are not merely acts of ‘harmless chatter’ and ‘wishful thinking.’ These are criminal conspiracies to conduct dangerous acts, and it is incumbent upon law enforcement to treat this activity as such.”

The three men were charged under Michigan’s Anti-Terrorism Act.

In April, co-defendants in the federal case, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, were acquitted on kidnapping-related charges. Two others, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, pleaded guilty and testified against Fox and Croft as part of a plea agreement.

“Citizens across the State can take comfort in the fact that law enforcement agencies across Michigan are working together every day to protect our communities from ideological extremists seeking to do harm,” Tarasca said.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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