Michigan Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot: 3 men convicted of support for plan

Three men accused of backing a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over COVID-19-era lockdown measures have been found guilty Wednesday on all charges. 

Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar have been convicted of providing “material support” for a terrorist act as members of a paramilitary group – the Wolverine Watchmen – along with a gun crime and membership in a gang.

The trio, according to the Associated Press, held gun drills in rural Jackson County with a leader of the scheme, Adam Fox, who was disgusted with Whitmer and other officials in 2020 and said he wanted to kidnap her. State prosecutors have said the Wolverine Watchmen was a criminal enterprise. 

During their trial, jurors read and heard violent, anti-government screeds as well as support for the “boogaloo,” a civil war that might be triggered by a shocking abduction. Prosecutors said COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Whitmer turned out to be fruit to influence more people to the Watchmen. 


Morrison, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, and Musico watched the verdict by video away from the courtroom. Judge Thomas Wilson ordered all three to jail while they await sentencing scheduled for Dec. 15. 

Defense attorneys argued that the three men had broken ties with Fox by late summer 2020 when the Whitmer plot came into focus. Unlike Fox and others, they didn’t travel to northern Michigan to scout the governor’s vacation home or participate in a key weekend training session inside a “shoot house.” 

Whitmer, a Democrat running for reelection on Nov. 8, was never physically harmed. 

Undercover agents and informants were inside Fox’s group for months. The scheme was broken up with 14 arrests in October 2020. 

Before the verdict Wednesday, on Oct. 16, a judge dismissed a female juror accused of flirting with Bellar. 

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar have been convicted Wednesday of supporting a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

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