Judge slashes bond for man linked to plot to kidnap Whitmer

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Friday slashed bond from $10 million to $100,000 for a man accused of assisting in a scheme to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and commit other violence against state government.

A defense attorney argued that Pete Musico was kicked out of the group in the early summer because he was too “soft” and wouldn’t commit to violence after participating in armed but legal spring rallies at the Capitol.

“He was telling them you cannot accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish through violence,” Kareem Johnson said.

Jackson County Judge Michael Klaeren reduced Musico’s bond, clearing the way for him to be released from jail. He must wear a GPS tether.

“Mr. Musico is under such a microscope that he would have to be absolutely nuts not to travel the straight and narrow” if released on bond, Klaeren said.

The judge noted that Musico has a job, ties to the community and “20-plus years of law-abiding conduct.”

Musico, appearing via video from jail, pressed his hands together and appeared to be emotionally affected. He thanked Klaeren.

Assistant Attorney General Greg Townsend told the judge that Musico had come up with his own “plan B.”

“He was concerned about an assault on the Capitol. He considered it a fishbowl and obviously could be dangerous,” Townsend said. “His plan was to find the addresses of various politicians and kidnap them. … We consider him to be a very dangerous individual.”

In response, Johnson said Musico made statements that were never carried out.

Authorities allege members of two anti-government paramilitary groups took part in plotting the kidnapping of Whitmer, a Democrat, before the election. Six men are charged in federal court. Musico is among eight others believed to be members or associates of a group called the Wolverine Watchmen. They’re charged in state court with providing material support for terrorist acts.

State police said Musico was a founder of the Watchmen and allowed his residence to be used for tactical training.

Investigators said Whitmer was targeted because of her tough measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. A stay-home order was in place for weeks, and businesses were greatly limited.

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