Lawyers for several defendants accused by authorities in Michigan of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who was cited in multiple cases charging unconstitutional COVID-19 orders, have asked that the judge dismiss an indictment naming their clients.
They charge that individuals working as agents for the police essentially are the ones responsible.
“When the government was faced with evidence showing that the defendants had no interest in a kidnapping plot, it refused to accept failure and continued to push its plan,” a filing on behalf of five defendants in the case states.
Facing charges, and up to life in prison, are defendants Adam Fox, 38, Barry Croft, 46, Kaleb Franks, 27, Daniel Harris, 24, and Brandon Caserta, 33.
But their lawyers charge that federal officials invented a conspiracy and entrapped the men.
The Detroit News explained the five were accused of plotting to kidnap Whitmer.
“According to the filing, FBI agents and federal prosecutors capitalized on discontent with Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, invented a conspiracy and entrapped five people who face up to life in prison if convicted of kidnapping conspiracy in a case that has shed light on violent extremism in Michigan,” the News reported.
The request to U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker is that he dismiss the conspiracy charge, which would undermine the government’s remaining charges.
The filing hits at the heart of the failings in the government’s case, which already has seen two government operatives fall in disgrace.
For example, FBI Special Agent Richard Trask, the government’s public face of the investigation, was arrested on a domestic violence charge and later fired and convicted of a misdemeanor. And a government informant, Stephen Robeson, was dropped by federal investigators after he was caught with an illegal sniper rifle.
Defense lawyers are charging, “The evidence here demonstrates egregious overreaching by the government’s agents, and by the informants those agents handled.
A sixth man, Ty Garbin, 26, of Hartland Township, earlier pleaded guilty and is serving a six-year prison term.
Federal prosecutors claim the men were not entrapped.
“Months before any of them began suggesting it in pretrial motions, Garbin testified that (Barry) Croft and (Adam) Fox were the ringleaders of the plot, and that he and the other conspirators joined it willfully,” claimed Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler.
But the News reported defense lawyers explained there was no kidnapping conspiracy, and that the government “initiated this case” even though “it knew there was no plan to kidnap, no operational plan, and no details about how a kidnapping would occur or what would happen afterward.”
WND previously reported that officials earlier dropped the testimony that could have come from Trask.
It had been revealed that he repeatedly was on social media denigrating President Trump.
At that time, defense attorney Michael Hills, representing Caserta, pointed out Trask’s agenda.
“If you still support our piece of s*** president you can f*** off,” Trask wrote while the investigation still was under way. “As someone whose wife works in the hospital I hope you burn in hell along with your douchebag f****** reality tv star. His ego is going to kill a lot of people and anyone who supports that is a dumbass. This is what you get when you elect an egotistica/narcissistic (sic) maniac to the top office. He needs people to be nice to him or he won’t help. F*** you douche.”
At the time, the Washington The Examiner reported, “Trask’s involvement in the case had already been complicated after he was arrested in July for allegedly beating his wife during a dispute over a swingers’ party. Before his arrest, he gave testimony in court about his findings during the conspiracy investigation, and in an Oct. 6 affidavit, Trask swore to an account detailing what agents discovered.”
He claimed, of the defendants, “Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor. The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”
The entire case, involving a variety of charges, further is muddied because there have been allegations that undercover FBI officers did much more than monitor what was going on, and that they actually instigated and planned it.
And there have been charges that an FBI agent told an informant to lie about another participant and to delete text messages to conceal the truth of the situation.
An investigative report by Buzzfeed said FBI informants who infiltrated the group were “acting under the direction of the FBI” and “played a far larger role than has previously been reported.”
“Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them,” the report said.
Hills charged that text messages in the case suggest the FBI “was pushing their paid agent to actively recruit people into an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy.”
At the time, he said, “The F.B.I. is instructing a paid F.B.I. informant to lie and paint an innocent citizen as an undercover federal agent to a man they claim is the head of a domestic terrorist organization, who they claim is paranoid about being infiltrated by the feds, who they claim has bragged about tossing a Molotov cocktail into a police officer’s house. This behavior, evidenced by the telephonic communication between F.B.I. handler Impola and Dan, casts a dark shadow over the credibility of this investigation and demonstrates the need for immediate disclosure as demanded.”