The three men received the harshest penalties to date in the federal and state conspiracy prosecutions on Thursday when they were each given a minimum penalty of seven to twelve years in prison for their roles in the scheme to abduct Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
In the cases brought by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office against the associates of plot masterminds Adam Fox and Barry Croft, who was found guilty in federal court of conspiring to commit kidnapping and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, the three sentences imposed in Jackson County were the first.
When two of the three defendants learned their sentences for accusations including giving material support to terrorists, belonging to a gang in connection with the kidnapping scheme, and possessing a firearm, they cried and begged for mercy.
Fox, whose sentencing is due on December 27, and Croft, whose sentencing is set for December 28, are both facing life sentences in prison, according to federal prosecutors.
Three men get longest prison sentences to date in @GovWhitmer kidnapping plot
https://t.co/K2h20GIDcx via @detroitnews
— John Anzalone (@JohnAnzo) December 16, 2022
In two plea agreements related to the federal Whitmer kidnapping prosecutions, Ty Garbin of Hartford Township had his initial sentence of 75 months in jail reduced to 30 months after testifying as a key witness in two federal trials, while Kaleb Franks of Waterford Township received four years in prison.
When defense attorneys failed to convince Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson that Whitmer was not a victim in the case, Wilson increased the drama of Thursday’s sentencings by allowing prosecutors to broadcast a taped video from Whitmer before the sentence.
The governor provided a letter for review and referred to the conspiracy as “a threat to democracy itself.” She claimed that as a result, she now pays close attention to what she says, analyzes crowds for potential threats, and worries about the safety of her family and security detail.
The jury decided that Joseph Morrison, Pete Musico, Morrison’s father-in-law, and their friend Paul Bellar were among the founding members and early members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia, which assisted in preparing Fox and Croft for their scheme to kidnap Whitmer.