Day three of testimony for suspects in plot to kidnap Whitmer included confidential informant
The proceeding was audio-only due to the FBI’s confidential informant testifying.
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Day three of hearings will started Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. The hearings were to determine whether two of the suspects in the plot to kidnap and harm Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will stand trial.
Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison, and Pete Musico are in Jackson County 12th District Court before Judge Michael J. Klaeren.
The confidential informant who tipped off the FBI to the plot will be heard at Friday’s hearing.
Wednesday, on day one of the hearings, FBI Special Agent Henrik Impola testified that the group of over a dozen men used social media to recruit and communicate with members. A recap of Wednesday’s hearing can be found here. On Thursday, Impola was cross-examined by the defense.
Thursday’s proceedings were a continuation of the testimony and cross examination of Special Agent Impola. A full recap of those proceedings can be found here.
On Friday a confidential informant for the FBI was heard. The audio was made available, although video was withheld to protect their identity.
The informant discussed their time with the Wolverine Watchmen, and those who stand accused of involvement in a plot to kidnap the governor and incite “the boogaloo,” a term used by some anti-government extremist political groups to describe a second civil war in the United States.
Prosecutors asked the informant about what they saw relating to Musico, Morrison and Bellar. Testimony covered the weapons and tactics training they were undertaking as well as what their goals were.
The defense focused on whether or not the group would have followed through with their talk. They pointed to the fact that the informant was in a position of leadership within the Wolverine Watchmen, and brought up that Bellar had a nickname of ‘Crazy Paul’ for his tendency to boast flamboyantly.
“You keep saying ‘Crazy Paul, Crazy Paul,’ saying he didn’t mean what he said,” the prosecution said to the defense. “But he said he was going to bring in a block of C4 and he did. He said he was going to bring in a grenade and he did.”
Testimony continued until 4 p.m., when the informant was dismissed. At that time Morrison’s attorney requested a bond review. Originally he had been given a $10,000,000 bond, although it was lowered to $150,000 on Nov. 13. Morrison’s attorney argued that although the previous bond reduction was significant, the current bond was also too high for Morrison to pay.
Morrison’s attorney instead offered alternatives for his client, such as a GPS ankle monitor. After reviewing the day’s testimony, Judge Klaeren opted to keep the bond set at $150,000.
Although the plot was centered in Michigan, it spanned across multiple states. Federal agents say the group met in Dublin, Ohio in June of 2020 to discuss creating a society that followed the U.S Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient. They discussed several ways from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. They talked specifically about Michigan and Governor Whitmer. Many in the group talked about “murdering tyrants” and “taking a sitting governor.”
Pete Musico, 42, and Joseph Morrison, 42, who live together in Munith, face the following charges:
- Threat of Terrorism, a 20-year felony and/or $20,000 fine
- Gang Membership, a 20-year felony that may be served as a consecutive sentence
- Providing Material Support for Terrorist Acts
- Carrying or Possessing a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony
- Felony Firearm, a two-year mandatory prison sentence
Paul Bellar, 21, of Milford, faces these 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.
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