Last sentencings are on docket in 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Dec 7, 2023, 7:41 AM
BELLAIRE, Mich. (AP) — A judge will hand down the final sentences Thursday in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, capping a remarkable investigation that broke into public view on the eve of the 2020 presidential election but produced mixed results in court.
Shawn Fix and Brian Higgins pleaded guilty earlier this year in northern Michigan’s Antrim County, the location of Whitmer’s second home.
They were not key figures in the investigation. But Higgins, a resident of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, acknowledged he went on a night ride on Whitmer’s road with a camera rigged to his pickup truck. He pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support for terrorism.
Fix pleaded guilty to providing material support. The suburban Detroit man admitted he assisted plot leader Adam Fox pinpoint Whitmer’s address for an earlier drive. Prosecutors said they also had other evidence against Fix.
Whitmer, a Democrat, was targeted as part of a broad effort by anti-government rebels to trigger a civil war around the time of the 2020 election, investigators said. Her COVID-19 policies, which shut down schools and restricted the economy, were deeply scorned by critics and stoked anger.
A raft of informants and undercover FBI agents, however, was inside the group for months, leading to arrests in October 2020. Whitmer was not physically harmed.
Fourteen people were charged in three different courts in Michigan. Nine people were convicted. But in cases that went to trial, prosecutors lost five and only won five.
Three of those acquittals happened in September in Antrim County among Fix’s and Higgins’ co-defendants. The pair had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors but were never called as trial witnesses.
After the plot was thwarted, Whitmer blamed then-President Donald Trump, saying he had given “comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” Trump, out of office, called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal” in 2022.