BELLAIRE, Mich. (AP) — A Wisconsin man accused of assisting the key figures in a plot to kidnap Michigan's governor pleaded guilty Wednesday to a lesser charge and will cooperate with prosecutors.
Brian Higgins said he attempted to provide material support for terrorism, an offense that carries a maximum prison term of five years.
Higgins was among five men scheduled to face trial later this year in northern Michigan's Antrim County, the location of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's vacation home. They were not charged with the 2020 kidnapping conspiracy but were accused of providing key support.
A ragtag band of anti-government rebels was planning to kidnap the Democrat and trigger a civil war before the election, investigators said.
Higgins, 54, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, admitted that he drove past Whitmer's property during a night ride that summer while others waited across a lake for his signal. He said he had a camera rigged to his pickup truck. The governor was not there at the time.
“I wish to plead guilty,” Higgins told the judge, appearing in court by video from his home in Wisconsin, where he has been free on bond.
Prosecutors also had evidence that Higgins trained with key members of the conspiracy at a “kill house” on the same weekend as the ride to Whitmer's house.
Informants and undercover FBI agents were inside the group for months, recording conversations and gathering evidence. The plot was broken up, and the governor was not physically harmed.
Fourteen people were charged in three different courts. The U.S. Justice Department secured convictions against four men in federal court, including leaders Barry Croft Jr. and Adam Fox, though two men were acquitted.
Three men charged with aiding Fox were found guilty in Jackson County in October and are serving long prison terms.
When the plot was foiled, Whitmer blamed then-President Donald Trump, saying he had given “comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” Last August, after 19 months out of office, Trump said the kidnapping plan was a “fake deal.”
White reported from Detroit.