The judge who oversaw the sentencing of three men who formed an early alliance with a leader of the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer before the FBI broke it up in 2020 did so on Thursday. Pete Musico received the harshest minimum sentence of 12 years, followed by his son-in-law Joe Morrison with 10 years, and Paul Bellar with 7 years.
Although they did not play a central role in the conspiracy, they were part of the same paramilitary organisation as Adam Fox, who is currently facing the possibility of a life sentence in a different case in federal court.
The three were found guilty in October of three separate offences, including providing material support for a terrorist act, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Whitmer pleaded with Jackson County Judge Thomas Wilson to “impose a sentence that meets the gravity of the damage they have done to our democracy” in a videotaped statement.
To paraphrase Whitmer: “A conspiracy to kidnap and kill a sitting governor of the state of Michigan is a threat to democracy itself.” She also mentioned that she constantly looks around her to see if anyone looks suspicious and that she is concerned “about the fate of everyone near me.”
Whitmer stated after the August convictions of Fox and Barry Croft Jr. that the verdicts proved “that violence and threats have no place in our politics and those who seek to divide us will be held accountable.”
After four others were found guilty of conspiracy in a high-profile federal trial, Wilson presided over the first state court convictions. Fox and Croft were portrayed as the masterminds behind a daring plot to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home and spark a civil war (or “boogaloo”) in the United States.
The Democratic re-election candidate Whitmer was never physically harmed. Fourteen people were arrested in October of 2020 after months of undercover FBI agents and informants operating within Fox’s group.
Offenders convicted of multiple offences in Michigan typically receive concurrent sentences. However, Wilson took the unprecedented step of ordering consecutive sentences for Musico and Morrison, thereby increasing their mandatory minimum sentences. The three men were found guilty of supporting terrorism, gun crimes, and gang membership, among other charges.
Bellar, Musico, and Morrison were all Wolverine Watchmen. After COVID-19 restrictions stifled the economy, armed protests at the Capitol, and anti-government hostility, the three went to Fox’s gun range in rural Jackson County for training and shared his disdain for Whitmer, police, and public officials.
Arguments And Responses From The Defendants
The harshest sentence was given to 45-year-old Musico, who was given a total of 12 to 20 years in prison (running concurrently because the convictions for his three charges were for the same crime). Each conviction carries a separate sentence, but Musico must still serve at least the minimum sentence required by law.
Musico was sentenced to between five and twenty years in prison for his involvement in two separate gangs, as well as two years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. While speaking to Wilson and hearing his sentence read, he was overcome with emotion. He yelled “I love you” to an audience member before being led away.
Musico told Wilson, “I had a lapse in judgement,” and went on to say that he and his wife had been married for 26 years. “Emotions ran high at the time… Here, I submit myself to the judgement of the court.”
Morrison, age 28, was given a total of three separate 10-to-20-year prison terms that will run concurrently. A total of four to twenty years were added to his sentence for his participation in a criminal organisation, material support for terrorism, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. While Wilson was reading Morrison’s sentence, he bowed his head.
Morrison announced to Wilson that he was cutting all ties with the Boogaloo movement and the Wolverine Watchmen.
Remarks Made By Whitmer
Judge Sunita Doddamani granted the consecutive sentences requested by Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani. A sentence for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony is always cumulative. She stressed that she did not make the request lightly and that concurrent sentencing, which allows punishment for different charges to be served at the same time, is not appropriate in these situations.
“I have little hope that any of the accused will abandon their anti-government views. It’s at the very heart of their being, “As Doddamani put it. It was probably everyone’s worst nightmare to be thrown in prison by the government for offences they didn’t commit.
On Thursday, Whitmer submitted a letter in addition to the video presented by the prosecution. Despite the fact that none of the three defence attorneys believed Whitmer’s statement should be admitted because she was not a victim, Wilson allowed the prosecution to show the video.
“They can vote against me or run campaigns in which they portray me in a negative light if they so choose. But they didn’t go that way. As members of a violent conspiracy, they “As Whitmer put it. A threat to democracy itself is posed by a plot to kidnap and kill the governor of Michigan.
She revealed that, ever since news of the plot broke, she has become hypervigilant in her pursuit of potential danger, has become more deliberate in her choice of parting words, and has become concerned for the safety of her family, her employees, and the police officers who serve as her personal bodyguard.
According to reports, the FBI foiled the plot before it could result in violence by embedding informants and undercover agents within the militia.
“The defendants planned to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and kill law enforcement and public officials. These extremely violent outcomes, along with the jury’s unanimous verdict, necessitate the maximum sentence, “What Nessel had to say about it.
Whitmer and her first husband Gary Shrewsbury are the parents of two children. They split up and she married Marc P. Mallory, a dentist with three kids from a previous marriage, in 2011. Currently, Whitmer, Mallory, and their six children (two of Whitmer’s daughters and three of Mallory’s sons) are residing in the Governor’s Mansion in Lansing.