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Plea change set for man accused of backing plot to kidnap Michigan governor

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BELLAIRE, Mich. (AP) — A man prosecutors describe as an anti-government extremist who backed a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to change his plea from not guilty, court records show.

Shawn Michael Fix is one of five men charged with providing material support for an act of terrorism in the scheme to abduct the Democratic governor in 2020 at her northern Michigan vacation home. Police broke up the plan and Whitmer was not physically harmed.

Fix, 40, of Belleville, was scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in Antrim County Circuit Court in Bellaire. He also is charged with possessing a firearm while committing a felony.

His lawyer and the state attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the case, did not respond to phone and email messages Tuesday.

Another man, Brian Higgins, pleaded guilty in March to the lesser charge of attempting to provide material support for terrorism. Three others — Eric Molitor and brothers Michael and William Null — await trial in August.

They were accused of providing key support but were not charged in the kidnapping conspiracy.

That case was handled in federal court, where four men were convicted in 2022, including ringleaders Barry Croft Jr. and Adam Fox. Two others were acquitted.

Three men in a separate but related trial were convicted in Jackson County in October and are serving long prison terms.

Prosecutors said the defendants were angered by Whitmer's policies at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They planned to snatch the governor in the hope of triggering a civil war before the 2020 election, investigators said. But informants and undercover FBI agents were inside the group for months, leading to arrests before the scheme could be carried out.

Fix was second-in-command to Fox in a paramilitary group, prosecutors said in an October 2022 court filing. Fix participated in “field training exercises” that involved weapons handling and meetings that included talk of attacking Whitmer, storming the Michigan Capitol and taking hostages, the document said.

It said Fix claimed falsely to have been a Navy SEAL and to have a supply of weapons and a Black Hawk military helicopter that could be used in the kidnapping. Fix provided information about the location of Whitmer's Antrim County house to Fox and others during a surveillance visit, prosecutors said.

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.” Last August, after 19 months out of office, Trump called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal.”