GRAND RAPIDS, MI- Many people have long suspected that the alleged “plot” to “kidnap” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was questionable at best, especially after it was revealed that the FBI was more than a mere bystander in the case.
Law Enforcement Today has previously reported on the numerous “holes” in the case. Now, a federal jury appears to agree, having acquitted two defendants outright in the case, while failing to reach a verdict against the other two suspects. The trial judge declared a mistrial against those two defendants, Yahoo News reports.
At the trial in Grand Rapids, four men—Daniel Harris, 24; Adam Fox, 38; Barry Croft Jr., 46; and Brandon Caserta, 33, were all charged with conspiracy. All but Caserta were additionally charged with knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destructions against persons or property, which was ostensibly designed to slow responding authorities.
In addition, Croft and Harris were charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device, while Harris was charged with possession of a semi-automatic rifle that wasn’t registered to him.
In the case of Harris, he was found not guilty on all four charges, while Caserta was found not guilty of conspiracy. The jury was unable to reach verdicts in the cases against Fox and Croft, which led to the mistrial declaration.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the outcome,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge told reporters outside the courtroom Friday afternoon. “We thought that the jury would convict beyond [a] reasonable doubt based on the evidence we put forward.”
Birge, in a brief statement, indicated his office will retry the defendants on the hung counts.
“We have two defendants that are awaiting trial and we’ll get to work on that,” he told reporters before walking away without taking questions.
Meanwhile, Caserta’s defense lawyer praised the jury’s decision while blaming the FBI’s involvement in the case.
“I think what the FBI did is unconscionable,” attorney Mike Hills said outside the courtroom. “And I think the jury just sent them a message loud and clear.”
The verdict did not set will with Whitmer’s office, with her chief of staff complaining about the “normalization of political violence.”
“Today, Michiganders and Americans—especially our children—are living through the normalization of political violence,” said chief of staff JoAnne Huls.
“The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we must be honest about what it really is: the result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country. There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened.”
Huls’ invocation about children being exposed to violence is an interesting dichotomy, given Whitmer’s support for abortion up until the 9th month of pregnancy. Apparently it all depends what type of “violence” one is talking about.
According to the Boston Herald, the acquittals came on the fifth day of deliberations in the case, only hours after the jury told the trial judge they were struggling to find a unanimous verdict against Fox and Croft. The judge instructed the jurors to continue working, however shortly after lunch, they told the judge thy were still deadlocked on some of the counts.
Meanwhile, Hill said the defendants in the case were doing nothing more than “rough talk.”
“We have the freedom to say that. If I don’t like the governor and it’s rough talk, I can do that in our country,” Hill said.
“That’s what’s beautiful about this country. That’s what’s great about it.”
Meanwhile, Fox’s attorney, Chris Gibbons said that while his client hoped for an acquittal instead of a hung jury, he holds out hope for better results in a subsequent trial.
“Adam is disappointed that he’s going to be detained a bit longer,” Gibbons said, “but we’re waiting for a second trial and we’ll eventually get where we want to get which is the truth and the justice I think Adam is entitled to.”
Meanwhile two other men who had been arrested in the scheme, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks pleaded guilty in the case and testified in the failed trial.
After the verdicts for Harris and Caserta were announced, they embraced their lawyers, finally freed by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker after being locked up for 18 months while awaiting trial, the Herald said.
The case came about in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and draconian emergency orders put in place primarily by Democrat governors such as Whitmer. At one point, armed protesters took to the streets of Michigan’s state capital, Lansing, to protest Whitmer’s orders.
The case, however, was marked by controversy, with the lead FBI investigator in the case being arrested for domestic violence after his wife refused to participate in a “swingers” event. He was eventually dismissed from the FBI.
There were also allegations that the FBI not only had informants (and possibly agents) embedded in the plot, but were more than observers, actually facilitating much of the scheme, including the supply of explosives, as previously reported by Law Enforcement Today.
According to BuzzFeed, the FBI had at least 12 informants and undercover agents embedded in the plot, which amounted to almost more than the actual participants in the scheme.
It is alleged that FBI-connected persons had encouraged militia members to organize the plot, while also facilitating some of the interactions behind it. The defendants claimed that undercover agents and informants were a crucial component of the alleged plot, while maintaining that without FBI involvement and influence, there may never have even been a conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer.
For example according to The Daily Caller, one of the informants, a man who came from Wisconsin planned meetups for the far-right militia members, which included paying for hotel rooms and foods as a cudgel to encourage those militia members. BuzzFeed reported that the initial plans to kidnap Whitmer took place at those meetings.
One other informant, an Iraq war veteran named “Dan” became so embedded in the operation that he became second-in-command of the group.
“Dan” was instrumental in the plot, encouraging the so-called “mastermind” behind the plan to kidnap Whitmer to move the scheme forward while then being instrumental in setting the trap which eventually ensnared some of the defendants.
“Dan” also arranged for an undercover FBI agent named “Red” to become part of the scheme. “Red” was alleged to be an “explosives expert” who would arrange for the group to obtain the explosives needed to blow up a bridge which would inhibit law enforcement’s response to Whitmer’s “kidnapping.” “Red” told the conspirators that it would require $4,000 to purchase enough C-4 to blow up the Elk River bridge, whereby the men agreed to raise enough funds to purchase the explosives.
During the trial which spanned thirteen days, prosecutors produced evidence from undercover agents, a crucial informant, as well as Garbin and Franks. Jurors also heard secretly recorded conversations, as well as read violent social media posts and chat messages.
Garbin alleged that the plan was to kidnap Whitmer and “cause enough chaos to trigger a civil war before the election,” the Herald reported, with the hope being to prevent Biden from winning the White House.
BuzzFeed meanwhile said that at least some of the defendants allege the investigation was a premeditated effort by the government to undermine their militia movement, with one accusing the government of entrapment based on the involvement of the FBI’s undercover agents and informants.