Crime

Whitmer Plotters Also Talked of Killing Virginia Governor, FBI Agent Testifies


October 13, 2020, 7:32 AM


Gov. Ralph Northam

Update, noon Tuesday: Adam Fox, the accused leader of the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnap plot, wanted to "take her out on a boat and leave her in the middle of Lake Michigan," an FBI agent testified Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

The group also spoke early on about killing another Democratic governor, Ralph Northam of Virginia, because of his Covid lockdown orders. That came before focusing solely on Whitmer, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Special Agent Richard Trask told a federal judge how the baker's dozen of self-identified militia members schemed to abduct Whitmer, set off a diversionary explposion at an M-31 bridge and firebomb police cars.

Trask said the Michigan suspects are part of a larger group of militia members from at least five states who met online and recruited members through social media to help them attack government officials, the Freep reports. 

Law enforcement has often been able to infiltrate fringe groups like militias and white supremacists. This case was no different.

By the time the defendants conducted a second surveillance outside the governor's personal cottage in Elk Rapids, the FBI had put in place two undercover agents and two confidential informants, the paper says.

Original article, Tuesday morning:

Five wild and scary guys stand before a federal magistrate Tuesday morning in Grand Rapids for a detention hearing, their first court appearance since being arraigned last Thursday on kidnap conspiracy and domestic terrorism charges.

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Clockwise from top left: Adam Fox, Barry Croft (not in court today), Ty Garbin, Brandon Caserta, Dan Harris and Kaleb Franks
(Photos: FBI/Graphic: WDIV)

They're sure to remain in custody, Robert Snell writes at The Detroit News:

Former prosecutors and defense lawyers say there is almost no chance five men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the government will be released on bond. ...

The circumstances of an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer, kill police officers and hatch a widespread bombing campaign in hopes of sparking a civil war likely will convince a federal magistrate judge to keep the five men in jail pending trial, legal experts said. ...

Federal documents filed in court Thursday allege the conspirators twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer's personal vacation home in northern Michigan and discussed kidnapping her to a "secure location" in Wisconsin to stand "trial" for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election.

A sixth federal defendant, 44-year-old Barry Gordon Croft Jr. of Bear, Del., was arrested there and will be transferred to Michigan.

Seven other men face related terrorism charges and firearms counts in state courts. Two of them -- Pete Musico, 42, and Joseph Morrison, 26 -- are held on $10-million bond.

Conspiracy to kidnap is a felony punishable by up to life in prison. Snell quotes Birmingham attorney Keith Corbett, former head of the federal Organized Crime Strike Force in Detroit:

"These guys are clearly dangerous, based on the nature of the charges. You could have the greatest ties to the community, but life in prison is a reason to split."

An FBI court filing describes the accused as militia members who met and trained in rural Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. They're portrayed as distrusting government and opposing Whitmer's pandemic restrictions.



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