Updated: Wisconsin man charged in anti-government extremist plot

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on COVID-19, March 20, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer office photo
    Updated, 2:41 p.m., 10/15/20 with further information about suspect

    A 14th person has been charged in the foiled kidnapping and murder plot against state officials, law enforcement officers, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

    Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office announced Thursday that Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin, has been charged with material support of an act of terrorism — a 20-year felony in Michigan.*

    According to the press release, Higgins was arrested Thursday in Wisconsin and will be extradited to Michigan to be arraigned in the Antrim County 86th District Court.

    This now makes eight individuals charged with a total of 20 state crimes: Paul Beller of Milford, Sean Fix of Belleville, Eric Molitar of Cadillac, Michael Null of Plainwell, William Null of Shelbyville, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison who lived together in Munith, and now Higgins.

    All eight men have ties to an anti-government extremism group known as the Wolverine Watchmen.

    The other state charges include threat of terrorism, gang membership, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony firearm) and providing material support for terrorist acts. Each of those charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while a felony firearm charge is punishable by a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence.

    2nd Dem gov targeted in plot to kill Whitmer

    As for the six men charged with federal crimes by the U.S. District Court of Western Michigan, three (Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta) appeared at an in-person bond hearing Tuesday. FBI Special Agent Richard Trask testified that the men intended to “take out” not just Whitmer, but also Democratic Virginia Gov. Northam.

    Franks, Harris and Caserta were all jailed without bond after the magistrate judge concluded they are dangers to the community.

    Barry Croft, the only non-Michigan resident, has been in custody in his home state of Delaware but is in the process of being transferred to Michigan. He had a brief virtual hearing Tuesday.

    The remaining federal suspects, Adam Fox and Ty Garbin, are scheduled to appear for a bond hearing Friday.

    All men facing federal charges could face life in prison if convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).