On Wednesday, three men were found guilty of providing “material support” for a terrorist act in regard to the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Prosecutors alleged the three men — Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar — were part of the “Wolverine Watchmen” who had trained with the other men involved in the kidnapping scheme, including Adam Fox. Fox was convicted as was Barry Croft. There were also two acquittals and there had previously been allegations from the defense in those cases of entrapment.
Morrison, Musico, and Bellar were also convicted of a gun crime and membership in a gang.
Defense attorneys argued that Morrison, Musico, and Bellar 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.”
“In this country, you are allowed to talk the talk, but you only get convicted if you walk the walk,” Musico’s attorney, Kareem Johnson, said in his closing remarks.
Defense lawyers couldn’t argue entrapment. But they attacked the tactics of Dan Chappel, an Army veteran and undercover informant. He took instructions from FBI agents, secretly recorded conversations and produced a deep cache of messages exchanged with the men.
Whitmer was never actually in danger because there had been agents inside the group, so none of the plans would have come to fruition. There are still five other men facing charges in state court.