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Informant scheduled to testify Friday in pre-trial for alleged Whitmer kidnap plotters

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A confidential informant who tipped the FBI to an alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to testify Friday morning at a pre-trial hearing of three alleged plotters.

Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison and Paul Bellar are facing numerous charges, including providing material support for terrorist acts.Prosecutors say the informant was a member of the group, Wolverine Watchmen, with the three defendants.

The plot allegedly involved not only kidnapping the governor, but also a plan to storm the state Capitol building. The investigation led to more than a dozen men being charged with state and federal terrorism charges. 

For the past two days, the FBI agent who supervised the informant into the alleged plot sat on the witness stand in a Jackson County court room. 

Thursday, defense attorneys pressed Special Agent Henrik Impola on how he could tell the difference between people talking about committing political violence, like storming the state Capitol building or kidnapping the governor, and actually planning on doing it.

Defense attorney Nicholas Somberg and Impola clashed on that issue at one point during Thursday’s Day 2 of the pre-trial hearing.

“I mean, you would agree, guys kind of talk crap with their friends, when they're with their boys?” asked Somberg.

“They can,” responded Impola. “It’s not the type of talk I talk in the locker room.”

But it’s an issue for the judge hearing the case. 

Nearing the end of Thursday’s hearing, District Court Judge Michael Klaeren admitted he’s struggling with the issue of “where’s that line where an idea becomes a plan.”

It will be up to the judge to decide if there’s enough evidence to bound over the three Jackson County suspects for trial.

Five other defendants are facing state similar state charges. Five others have been charged federally.

One person arrested as part of the alleged plot has agreed to a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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