Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature that would have forgiven business

Michigan Jury Acquits Two Men In Alleged Plot To Kidnap Democratic Gov. Whitmer, While Mistrial Is Declared For Two Others

The lawyers for four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wanted instead to put the FBI on trial for attempted entrapment.

The argument may have worked.

On Friday, according to multiple news sources, a federal jury acquitted two of the defendants and remained deadlocked on the other two.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta are charged with conspiracy in the supposed plot to take Whitmer hostage. Prosecutors maintained the men acted in outrage over her draconian 2020 COVID-19 lockdown policies.

They reportedly had planned to snatch Whitmer from her vacation home in northern Michigan. Once they had Whitmer the defendants planned to either put her “on trial” or in lieu of that, set her adrift on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan.

Prosecutors also charged Fox, Croft and Harris with conspiracy to use a “weapon of mass destruction,” which related to part of their plan that involved acquiring and constructing explosives to blow up a bridge to cut off anticipated police pursuit. Croft and Harris also faced additional weapons charges.

The conspiracy kidnapping and WMD charges carried maximum penalties of life in prison. 

The FBI sought to whip up fear by labeling them as part of a “militia” group, dubbed the Wolverine Watchmen.

Yet Harris and Caserta were acquitted of all charges.

Jurors deadlocked on the accusations against Fox and Croft, and gave no indication they could reach a verdict. Thus, a mistrial was declared.

Prosecutors said they will try them again.

After the decisions were rendered, defense lawyers slammed the government’s case.

As an NPR reporter noted, “the men’s defense was that they weren’t serious, that they were entrapped. And they smoked a lot of pot and talked a tough game, but in the end, nothing happened.”

The network quoted one defense attorney who argued the supposed plot was “laced with marijuana, smoke and mirrors.” The defense claimed an FBI informant identified as “Big Dan” prodded the others into furthering the conspiracy.

As The New York Times noted, “The prosecution’s case was hampered by a lack of clarity on what exactly the men were accused of plotting. No attack ever took place and no final date for an abduction was set, testimony showed. The details of the alleged plan sometimes differed drastically from prosecution witness to prosecution witness.”

But the government’s case also was not helped by three key witnesses. As The Free Press reported in December, prosecutors excused three FBI agents who were deeply involved in the investigation because of misconduct that defense lawyers were set to exploit.

In one case, defense attorneys pointed out that FBI agent Jayson Chambers was mired in a plan to “entrap” a disgruntled Vietnam vet into assassinating Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam before the 2020 election.

As the Associated Press reported, “defense lawyers portrayed the men as credulous weekend warriors, often stoned on marijuana and prone to big, wild talk.”

At one point Fox’s lawyer, Christopher Gibbons, told jurors, “Everything that moves this case forward … it’s the government moving all of it.”

During closing arguments a week ago, Gibbons called the plot “utter nonsense,” and asked the jury to erect a “firewall” against government entrapment.

Caserta’s attorney, Michael Hills, told reporters after the verdicts, “I think what the FBI did is unconscionable.”

“And I think the jury just sent them a message loud and clear that these tactics — we’re not going to condone what they’ve done here.”

The Times also pointed out, “The result was a major blow to the Justice Department, which during the Biden administration has made domestic terrorism one of its top priorities in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.”

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One Reply to “Michigan Jury Acquits Two Men In Alleged Plot To Kidnap Democratic Gov. Whitmer, While Mistrial Is Declared For Two Others”

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