The three men convicted of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were sentenced by Judge Thomas Wilson to terms that could stretch to as long as 20 years in prison. Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison, and Pete Musico were convicted in October of aiding in the plot that was successfully foiled by the FBI in 2020. The charges included gang membership, supporting terrorist acts, and firearms charges, reports the Wall Street Journal. The three men helped provide training and facilities, prosecutors said. Defense lawyers said the men were entrapped and had no real intention of carrying out their plans. One suspect was described as someone wrapped up in a fanciful game. Whitmer wasn’t harmed by the plot and it was broken up before plotters took any concrete action. Wilson sentenced Musico to a minimum of 12 years in prison, Morrison to a minimum of 10 years, and Bellar to a minimum of seven years. Sunita Doddamani, an assistant attorney general, had argued for sentences in the top range of the state’s guidelines. Whitmer urged the judge in a video message to impose harsh penalties. “A conspiracy to kidnap and kill a sitting governor of the state of Michigan is a threat to democracy itself,” she said
Prosecutors stressed the men’s relationship that was built on antigovernment sentiment and the feeling that they needed to be ready to take action against the government. Ahead of their sentencing, the men expressed remorse for their actions and regret. “I regret that I ever let hate, fear, and anger into my heart the way I did,” Morrison said, as he asked for a lenient sentence. He renounced the Wolverine Watchmen militia movement and the so-called boogaloo movement, which seeks to stoke civil war. The Whitmer case was part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to address issues of domestic terrorism. In August, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, who led the plot, were found guilty in federal court and face life in prison for their roles. They are slated to be sentenced this month. The two men scouted the governor’s vacation home and plotted to blow up a nearby bridge. Their lawyers also unsuccessfully argued that they were entrapped by the FBI using informants.