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Mich. men to stand trial for allegedly plotting to storm state capitol, kidnap elected officials

The Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan as seen during the winter.
The Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan as seen during the winter.(WILX)
Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 6:48 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WTVG) - Three members of a Michigan militia who allegedly plotted to storm the state capitol and kidnap elected officials will stand trial for the involvement.

“We must send a clear message that those who seek to do violence against our institutions of democracy and our elected representatives are not patriots, they are criminals,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “My office is pleased to see this case move forward and to have the opportunity to hold these men accountable for their actions.”

Joseph Morrison, Paul Bellar, and Pete Musico, all known members of the Wolverine Watchmen, appeared in court Monday for a preliminary exam before Judge Michael Klaeren of the 12th District Court in Jackson County, where they were bound over and will stand trial for their part in the alleged plot.

Morrison, 26, of Munith, was bound over on the following charges:

  • Gang membership, a 20-year felony that may be served as a consecutive sentence;
  • Providing material support for terrorist acts; and
  • Carrying or possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony; felony firearm – a two-year mandatory prison sentence to be served consecutively.

Bellar, 21, of Milford, was bound over on the following charges:

  • Providing material support for terrorist acts, a 20-year felony and/or $20,000 fine;
  • Gang membership, a 20-year felony, which may be served as a consecutive sentence; and
  • Carrying or possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony; felony firearm – a two-year mandatory prison sentence to be served consecutively.

Musico, 42, of Munith, was bound over on the following charges:

  • Gang membership, a 20-year felony that may be served as a consecutive sentence;
  • Providing material support for terrorist acts, a 20-year felony and/or $20,000 fine; and
  • Carrying or possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony; felony firearm – a two-year mandatory prison sentence to be served consecutively.

The three men are among several who were arrested on domestic terrorism charges after a joint operation by state and federal authorities in early October exposed a plot that included targeting law enforcement officers, threatening violence to incite a civil war, planning an attack on the state Capitol building and kidnapping government officials, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Judge Klaeren ruled that the defendants will not be tried on charges of a threat of terrorism.  The Attorney General will explore all options for reconsideration of the charge moving forward.

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