Home A project of States Newsroom
Wisconsin man pleads guilty in Whitmer kidnapping plot


Wisconsin man pleads guilty in Whitmer kidnapping plot

Mar 15, 2023 | 5:13 pm ET
By Laina G. Stebbins
Wisconsin man pleads guilty in Whitmer kidnapping plot
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs a stay at home order to fight COVID-19, March 23, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

A man from Wisconsin pleaded guilty to a five-year felony for his role in a plot to kidnap and likely assassinate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Wednesday.

Brian Higgins, 54, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisc., pled guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support for terrorism. His sentencing date is to be determined.

“Anti-government extremism poses a threat to the safety of public officials, law enforcement officers, and residents all across our state,” Nessel said in a statement Wednesday.

“My department’s Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism Unit is working around the clock to ensure that those who attempt to sow discord and commit violence in Michigan are stopped before any harm can come of their plots. We will keep fighting to deliver justice as the remaining prosecutions continue to play out.” 

Higgins was among several men part of the paramilitary group “Wolverine Watchmen” that have been charged as a result of a state and federal operation in October 2020. In total so far, Nessel’s office has filed 20 state felony charges against eight individuals. Federal charges were filed against six individuals.

The Wolverine Watchmen had trained to attack Whitmer’s northern Michigan vacation home, open fire on her security detail and then kidnap her, in retaliation for the Democrat’s COVID-19 health restrictions for the state in the early days of the pandemic.

A status conference for the other defendants is scheduled for March 21. Three more defendants were convicted in Jackson County in October, four others have been convicted on federal charges and two have been acquitted from federal charges.

Higgins, who was initially arrested for the 20-year felony of providing material support of an act of terrorism, had his charges reduced in a plea agreement which saw him agree to testify against the remaining defendants.