3 men convicted of supporting plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Booking photos of three men
Paul Bellar, from left, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico were convicted of all charges related to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
(Associated Press)

Three men accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor were convicted of all charges Wednesday, a triumph for state prosecutors after months of mixed results in the main case in federal court.

Joe Morrison, his father-in-law, Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar were found guilty of providing “material support” for a terrorist act as members of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen.

They held gun drills in rural Jackson County with a leader of the scheme, Adam Fox, who was disgusted with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other officials in 2020 and said he wanted to kidnap her.


Even if the kidnap plot and another to attack the state Capitol are right-wing fever dreams, they are dangerous marks of these tumultuous times.

Oct. 8, 2020

Jurors read and heard violent, antigovernment 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 recruit more people to the Watchmen.

“The facts drip out slowly,” state Assistant Atty. Gen. Bill Rollstin told jurors in Jackson, Mich., “and you begin to see — wow — there were things that happened that people knew about. ... When you see how close Adam Fox got to the governor, you can see how a very bad event was thwarted.”

Morrison, 28, Musico, 44, and Bellar, 24, were also convicted of a gun crime and membership in a gang. Prosecutors said the Wolverine Watchmen was a criminal enterprise.

Morrison, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, and Musico watched the verdict by video away from the courtroom.

Judge Thomas Wilson ordered all three men 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.”