Member of Extremist Group Pleads Guilty in Michigan Governor Kidnapping Plot

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At one “field training exercise” in Cambria, Wis., in July the defendants used plywood, shipping pallets and a door frame to construct a “shoot house” to practice breaching the Michigan Capitol or other buildings, according to the documents. Adam D. Fox, the accused leader of the group, had allegedly sought to recruit 200 men for the attack, but it was later abandoned because it was too complicated and some members of the group opposed it.

In the plot to kidnap the governor, the defendants visited Ms. Whitmer’s vacation home in Michigan twice and planned to buy $4,000 worth of explosives to blow up a bridge to try to prevent the police from responding to their plan.

The group discussed waiting until after the election, as members anticipated widespread civil unrest that might make it easier to carry out the plan, the agreement said. At a field training exercise near Luther, Mich., the men also built a “shoot house” to simulate an attack on the governor’s house and practiced attacking it with firearms, the plea agreement stated.

The field training exercises also included attempts to build homemade bombs that included gunpowder, shrapnel and fireworks for ignition. Two attempts to explode such devices failed, according to court papers.

Gary K. Springstead, the lead lawyer defending Mr. Garbin, said his client already faced a life sentence for the kidnapping charge, a felony. Further charges for weapons or explosives were possible as federal officials released more details about what the group had done. The plea agreement could help lower the amount of jail time for the kidnapping plot and also stave off further charges, said Mr. Springstead.

During the preliminary hearings in October, Mr. Springstead and other lawyers in the case had focused on the idea that the men were practicing their First and Second Amendment rights when denigrating the governor.

The fact that the men had cased the governor’s house made any such defense much harder, he said. “There was a line that was crossed, something that you cannot undo,” the lawyer said.

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