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Judge tosses terrorism threat charge against 3 accused in alleged Whitmer plot

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Damn, the FBI needs to do a better job of setting people up to make splashy stories about white supremacists.

Judge tosses terrorism threat charge against 3 accused in alleged Whitmer plot

 

Three men accused in an alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will not face false report or threat of terrorism charges, a Jackson County judge ruled Monday.


Judge Michael Klaeren of 12th District Court in Jackson dismissed the charge against Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico, both of Munith, and declined a request by prosecutors to add it to the charges against Paul Bellar, of Milford. 

"There has to be some form of intent here to incite mayhem," said Judge Michael Klaeren of 12th District Court in Jackson.

The charge carried a possible penalty of 20 years in prison.

They are among seven men accused of having ties to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen who are charged in the alleged plot. The others include Shawn Fix of Belleville, Eric Molitor of Cadillac, Michael Null of Plainwell and William Null of Shelbyville. The men had faced a total of 19 felony charges for firearms and terror-related acts.

Klaeren on Monday ordered Bellar, Morrison and Musico to stand trial on three remaining charges, gang membership and providing material support for terrorism, both punishable by up to 20 years in prison, as well as felony firearm, punishable by up to two years in prison.

After onboarding new members through mediums such as Facebook, the group's conversations took place in encrypted chats. The limited nature of those chats is why the terror threat charge was dismissed, Klaeren said.


Klaeren said an encrypted communication network, not accessible to the general public, was "in many respects no different than thinking the thought to yourself."

"One does not need to participate in all acts of a conspiracy," Klaeren said, after hearing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys. "One does not even need to know all the co-conspirators."

The gang membership charge and the felony firearms charge were dependent on the material support for terrorism charge, Klaeren said.

But just as the secret nature of the group's communications is why the terrorism threat charge was tossed, Klaeren used it as a reason why the gang membership charge could not be, without examining the material support charge.

"Why all the secrecy?" Klaeren said. 

He noted the group had a "multi-tiered vetting process, secret means of communication, required training and exclusive membership."

 

Klaeren said the three men were "joined at the hip," and compared them to mountain climbers at a summit.

"They started a very big snowball that wasn't going to stop," Klaeren said.

That the kidnap plot never materialized is not "fatal" to the material support for terrorism charge, he said.

"Even something stupid can be a plan," Klaeren said. 

Klaeren called the three men "erratic" and said there's a reason to believe that a successful kidnapping of Whitmer would "result in injury or death or the commission of other violent crimes."

Citing the alleged plot, at least seven training sessions, and "repeatedly exposing their expertise to others," Klaeren said the trio will stand trial on both the gang membership and material support of terrorism charge.

As for the felony firearm charge, Klaeren cited "direct testimony" that firearms were present at the training sessions.

 

 

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Sack "The Buffalo Range's TRUSTED News Source!"

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Good.  That case stunk.  :niterider:

 

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seandelevan said:
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StraightJ said:
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BertSquirtgum said:
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Mainejays said:
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212frawk said:
also, all that shit in your signature is beyond annoying. just like you.

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