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Judge rules case can go ahead against three men charged in kidnapping plot

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Three more men will face trial over the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison, and Pete Musico face charges of providing support to a terrorist act, being part of a gang, and of having a firearm while committing a felony.

“I would contend that all of these people are not necessarily crazy, but perhaps erratic,” said Judge Michael Klaeren, of the 12th District Court in Jackson County. “Which makes them the most dangerous of criminals, because you can’t predict them.”

Though he said the case could move forward on each of the three charges against the three men, he tossed out a fourth charge that the Michigan Attorney General had brought against Morrison and Musico. The state had charged those men with making terrorist threats. Klaeren ruled the men were hiding their plans, not making public threats.

“They would have perceived that all of the men that they were communicating with would not say a word about it,” Klaeren said. “Because they were trying to keep it secret.”

The three men are among 14 total who have been charged in the alleged plot. Five of the men have been charged in federal court, and one has already plead guilty in federal court.

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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