JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A judge ruled Tuesday that three men charged in a plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before the 2020 election were not entrapped by the FBI.
The case against Joseph Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar will move forward to a tentatively scheduled pretrial examination in August and trial in September, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson said during a video conference.
They are charged with providing materials to support terrorist acts, attempting to commit a felony as an associate or member of gang, and gun counts in the plot to kidnap Whitmer.
They are accused of aiding six others who were charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer, including two men who have pleaded guilty and four who are scheduled to stand trial March 8 in Grand Rapids. Five more people are also charged in state courts. The FBI said it broke up a plot.
Investigators have described Morrison, Bellar and Musico as anti-government extremists who were angry over coronavirus policies and restrictions imposed by the governor during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An FBI informant identified Monday in court only as "Dan" testified about his communications and conversations with the defendants. Defense attorneys said some of their clients' activities were initiated by the informant who was controlled by the FBI.
Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani said there is no evidence that the informant's actions "overbore" the defendants' will "to be law-abiding citizens."
Morrison and Musico are from Munith. Bellar is from Milford.
According to a court affidavit, Musico and Morrison are founding members of the Wolverine Watchmen, which authorities described as "an anti-government, anti-law enforcement militia group."
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