A Wisconsin man, one of eight defendants accused of plotting to violently overthrow the Michigan government last fall and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, was arraigned Tuesday in Antrim County, Michigan, before Magistrate Norene Kastys.
Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on a charge of material support of an act of terrorism. He had recently withdrawn his extradition appeal and was booked into the Antrim County Jail late Monday.
Like the other seven individuals being prosecuted by the state, Higgins had links to the Wolverine Watchmen militia group in Michigan.
“My office is pleased to see Mr. Higgins arraigned in Michigan,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “Our focus remains on holding those who seek to do violence against elected officials — and therefore undermine our democracy — accountable.”
Six other men are facing federal charges in connection with the plot. All potentially face life in federal prison if convicted of conspiracy to kidnap a sitting elected official, and three have also been charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Prosecutors say the 14 men had planned, for several months until their arrest in early October, to enact a plot to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home, put her on “trial” for treason due to her COVID-19 orders and potentially kill her.
Other scenarios discussed involved holding elected officials hostage in the Michigan Capitol, televising their executions, burning down the Capitol building, targeting law enforcement officials at their homes, detonating explosives on a bridge to prevent police interference and generally attempting to instigate a civil war.
Higgins allegedly provided assistance in the plan to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home, according to authorities.
Kastys set Higgins’ bond at $100,000. That bond comes with the conditions that he must be placed on GPS tether and be seen by pretrial services prior to his release, have no contact with Whitmer or her family, stay at least 500 yards away from the workplace and all residences of Whitmer and her family, must not be in possession of any weapons, must not have any militia contact and must surrender his passport to the Court.
A probable cause conference is set for 1 p.m. on May 12. The date for an in-person preliminary exam has not yet been determined.