A Wisconsin man is entering a guilty plea in a Northern Michigan courtroom, in connection with the kidnapping plot against Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Brian Higgins was among five men charged with providing material support for an act of terrorism. But now Higgins is pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
Higgins is not saying that he did provide material support in an act of terrorism. But what he is saying through this guilty plea is that he attempted to provide material support for a terrorist act.
Circuit Court Judge Charles Hamlyn asked Higgins, “Do you swear the testimony you’re about to provide will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” Higgins replied, “I do, your Honor.”
The lesser charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison under state sentencing guidelines.
In court, under questioning by his own attorney Michael Naughton, Higgins admitted to running surveillance as part of the kidnapping plot.
“You were in Antrim County to participate in surveillance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vacation house, correct?” Naughton asked. “Correct,” Higgins replied.
Higgins admitted in court that in September of 2020 he was driving in his truck, along with Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, with a dash-cam in place. Higgins says they were surveilling the vacation home of Governor Whitmer in Elk Rapids.
Naughton asked, “You would agree that it was the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against an individual, that being Governor Whitmer. You would agree with that?” Again, Higgins replied, “I would agree.”
After conferring with attorney Bill Rollstin, representing the state Attorney General’s office, Naughton also asked about the broader plot. “Mr. Higgins, you were aware that this plot to kidnap the Governor in the State of Michigan was part of the request of Adam Fox and Barry Croft, correct?”
Higgins replied, “I didn’t know their names at the time so I wasn’t sure. I didn’t recall the faces that go with the names. But I do recall somebody having that plan, yes.” Higgins says he later became aware of who Fox and Croft were in the ongoing discussion and planning.
Under the plea deal and cooperation agreement, Higgins must testify at the trial for the other defendants, and Higgins will be sentenced after that trial.
If the sentencing handed down by the judge goes beyond the five years under the state guidelines, Higgins could still change his mind. He would have the right to withdraw his plea.
The trial is still moving forward for the other four defendants in Antrim County. It’s set to last 15 days, starting toward the end of August.