Three members of Wolverine Watchmen who plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been sentenced to prison. The trio of Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison, and Paul Beller were sentenced on Thursday for providing material support for a terrorist act as they conspired with others to kidnap Whitmer from her home in 2020.
The two leaders of the gang, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, were convicted in federal court for kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were co-defendants with Fox and Croft, but they were acquitted. Several other people, including Kaleb Franks, Ty Garbin, and FBI informant Stephen Robeson are convicted on state or federal charges for the kidnap attempt.
Fox will be sentenced on December 27 and Croft on December 28.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson allowed prosecutors to play a recorded message of Gov. Whitmer for the highest prison sentence allowable for the convicts. Whitmer said their attempt to kidnap and possibly kill a sitting governor constitutes a threat to democracy, and that the incident has left her shaken and mistrusting of people in her vicinity.
“These three defendants are free to disagree, vote, or campaign against me,” Whitmer said. “Instead, they took a different path. They supported a violent conspiracy. A conspiracy to kidnap and kill a sitting governor of the state of Michigan is a threat to democracy itself. I am changed, and my family is changed. Ultimately, this isn’t about me, though. A conspiracy to kidnap and kill a sitting governor of the state of Michigan is a threat to democracy itself – and this kind of violent extremism has become disturbingly common.”
Forty-five-year-old Musico was sentenced to 12-20 years in prison for membership in Wolverine Watchmen, providing support to terrorists, and for felony firearm. Morrison, 28, got 10-20 years for gang membership, support to terrorists, and gun possession. Bellar, 24, received 7-20 years for being a member of a gang, offering material support to a terrorist, and for firearm possession. They all expressed regrets for their actions before they were led away from the court.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel stated that the most painful aspect of the trial is that the trio of Musico, Morrison, and Bellar continued to prove their innocence even after admitting they were part of the gang that attempted to kidnap Whitmer. They also trained Fox and Croft during the conspiracy. Nessel said they ought to get the maximum sentence applicable to their cases.
“The defendants’ ultimate goals were to kill police and elected officials and kidnap the Governor of Michigan,” Nessel said. “These extraordinarily violent ends, coupled with the unequivocal conviction from the jury, demand the maximum sentence. Appropriate consequences for illegal acts are necessary to deter criminal behavior.”