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Thread: Right Wing extremists charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

  1. #26
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    https://abcnews.go.com/US/2nd-guilty...ry?id=82771272

    2nd guilty plea made in alleged kidnapping plot of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

    A second man charged in a bizarre plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pleaded guilty Wednesday and has agreed to testify for the prosecution at the federal trial of four other defendants.

    Kaleb Franks, 27, of Waterford, Michigan, admitted in U.S. District in Grand Rapids that he and other members of the Wolverine Watchmen, a Michigan-based self-styled "militia" group, hatched the plot to abduct Whitmer at her summer home in 2020 because they were upset by the state's COVID-19 restrictions.

    The plot, which allegedly included plans to use semiautomatic assault-type weapons and to bomb a bridge near Whitmer's vacation home, was foiled by undercover law enforcement officers who infiltrated the group.

    "Did any law enforcement officers suggest kidnapping the governor?" U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip Green asked Franks during Wednesday's hearing.

    Franks replied, "No sir."

    Franks admitted in court that the kidnapping plan originated solely with him and the others charged in the conspiracy.

    Lawyers for the other men facing trial in March filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing they were entrapped. The judge rejected that motion.

    Franks' guilty plea comes after another man charged in the case, Ty Garbin, 25, pleaded guilty last year to firearms charges and conspiracy charges of providing material support for terrorists. Garbin was sentenced in August to 75 months in prison.

    Garbin is also expected to testify for the prosecution in the upcoming federal trial for Adam Fox, 40, Barry Croft Jr., 45, Daniel Harris, 24, and Brandon Caserta, 33. Eight other men face charges in state court stemming from the kidnap plot.

    Franks admitted being deeply involved in the kidnap plot, participating in meetings and training sessions, and surveillance conducted on Whitmer's vacation home in his signed plea agreement.
    https://abcnews.go.com/US/airplane-m...ry?id=79636441

    Airplane mechanic sentenced to 75 months in prison for plot to kidnap Michigan governor

    The first sentencing in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year was handed down Wednesday afternoon.

    Ty Garbin, a 25-year-old airplane mechanic, was sentenced to 75 months in prison for charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. He will then serve three years of supervised released and has also been fined $2,500.

    He must also seek substance abuse treatment and all computer use must be approved, the judge said.

    Garbin initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but changed his plea and cooperated with investigators within weeks of being arrested, The Associated Press reported. He willingly put a "target on his back to begin his own redemption," according to a court filing by the Department of Justice.

    Prosecutors had previously asked U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker to take Garbin's cooperation into consideration during sentencing, recommending that Garbin serve a nine-year prison term.

    Garbin's defense attorney, Gary Springstead, asked the judge to take into account Garbin's life both before and after the conspiracy. Not only did Garbin not have a criminal record prior to the plot, but he suffered psychological, physical and emotional abuse by his father all his life, which predisposed him to "becoming swept up in a group such as that charged in the current indictment," Springstead said.

    In additional, Garbin has accepted responsibility for his actions and has testified twice, including "in front of the grand jury in support of the indictment that got him indicted," Springstead said.

    Prosecutors said Garbin "filled in a lot of gaps" in the investigation, especially for conversations he had with other defendants that undercover agents were not present for. The testimonies included multiple debriefings and hours of interviews, in which he answered all of the questions asked of him.

    Garbin will likely be a star witness in the trials going forward, prosecutors said.

    The guideline range for Garbin's charges was 168 to 210, but Jonker sentenced Garbin to 75 months, taking into consideration the seriousness of the offense, the need for public deterrence and Garbin's willingness to take responsibility for his actions.

    Garbin apologized to Whitmer when given the chance to speak in court.

    "I've had a lot of time to reflect on my actions, and I never realized what my actions would have caused to her, but also her family," he said, adding that he was also "selfish" for not taking into account how his actions would affect his own family and friends.

  2. #27
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    https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/...ready-83662808

    Man in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot says he lied after arrest

    Defense attorneys on Friday tried to blunt the testimony of a man who said he plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, getting him to admit that after his arrest he had referred to the group as a “bunch of jokers” just playing roles.

    But Kaleb Franks, who pleaded guilty in February, said he had lied to the FBI because he feared going to jail for his part in a staggering scheme to grab Whitmer from her vacation home in northern Michigan just before the 2020 national election.

    Franks said he was hoping that “LARPing” — live-action role playing — would “explain the firearms ... all the stuff that was a part of the crime."

    “If you were LARPing, would you have pled guilty?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Roth asked.

    “No,” Franks replied.

    He testified on the 10th day of trial for four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer: Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. Franks agreed to cooperate with prosecutors with the hope of getting a lighter sentence in June.

    He said Fox believed Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions were “tyrannical” and that the U.S. Constitution gave the men a right to strike back. Earlier in the week, another man who pleaded guilty, Ty Garbin, said a kidnapping could ignite a U.S. civil war involving antigovernment groups and possibly prevent the election of Joe Biden.

    Franks' main testimony occurred Thursday in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He described training in summer 2020 for an eventual assault on Whitmer's second home in Elk Rapids, reinforcing testimony earlier in the week from Garbin, the first person to plead guilty.

    “I was going to be an operator,” Franks said. “I would be one of the people on the front line, so to speak, using my gun.”

    He said he stayed with the group because he was depressed and had hoped he would be killed in a shootout with police.

  3. #28
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    https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/...ready-83662808

    Man in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot says he lied after arrest

    Defense attorneys on Friday tried to blunt the testimony of a man who said he plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, getting him to admit that after his arrest he had referred to the group as a ?bunch of jokers? just playing roles.

    But Kaleb Franks, who pleaded guilty in February, said he had lied to the FBI because he feared going to jail for his part in a staggering scheme to grab Whitmer from her vacation home in northern Michigan just before the 2020 national election.

    Franks said he was hoping that ?LARPing? ? live-action role playing ? would ?explain the firearms ... all the stuff that was a part of the crime."

    ?If you were LARPing, would you have pled guilty?? Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Roth asked.

    ?No,? Franks replied.

    He testified on the 10th day of trial for four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer: Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. Franks agreed to cooperate with prosecutors with the hope of getting a lighter sentence in June.

    He said Fox believed Whitmer?s COVID-19 restrictions were ?tyrannical? and that the U.S. Constitution gave the men a right to strike back. Earlier in the week, another man who pleaded guilty, Ty Garbin, said a kidnapping could ignite a U.S. civil war involving antigovernment groups and possibly prevent the election of Joe Biden.

    Franks' main testimony occurred Thursday in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He described training in summer 2020 for an eventual assault on Whitmer's second home in Elk Rapids, reinforcing testimony earlier in the week from Garbin, the first person to plead guilty.

    ?I was going to be an operator,? Franks said. ?I would be one of the people on the front line, so to speak, using my gun.?

    He said he stayed with the group because he was depressed and had hoped he would be killed in a shootout with police.

  4. #29
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    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...rial-rcna22516

    No convictions for defendants in Michigan Gov. Whitmer kidnapping trial

    A federal jury failed to convict four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whom they despised for the restrictions she ordered early in the pandemic.

    The panel in Grand Rapids considered charges against Daniel Harris, 24, Adam Fox, 38, Barry Croft Jr., 46, and Brandon Caserta, 33, all charged with conspiracy.

    All but Caserta are also charged with knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property, in an alleged plot to slow responding police.

    Croft and Harris were also charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device. Harris was charged with possession of a semi-automatic assault rifle that wasn't registered to him.

    Harris was found not guilty of all four charges, but jurors could not reach verdicts in charges against Fox and Croft. The judge declared a mistrial in those counts.

    Caserta was found not guilty of conspiracy.

    "Obviously we're disappointed in the outcome," U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said outside court on Friday afternoon. ?We thought that the jury would convict beyond reasonable doubt based on the evidence we put forward.?

    In his brief statement, Birge appeared to say his office will retry on the hung counts.

    "We have two defendants that are awaiting trial and we'll get back to work on that," he said before walking away from reporters and taking any additional questions.

    Caserta's defense lawyer Mike Hills celebrated his client's acquittal and blamed overly aggressive FBI informants.

    ?I think what the FBI did is unconscionable," Hills told reporters outside court. ?And I think the jury just sent them a message loud and clear.?

    Whitmer's chief of staff, JoAnne Huls, decried the "normalization of political violence."

    ?Today, Michiganders and Americans ? especially our children ? are living through the normalization of political violence," Huls said in a statement after the verdicts.

    "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. "

    Hills said defendants were engaged in 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,? he said. ?That?s what?s beautiful about this country. That?s what?s great about it.?

    Defense lawyer Chris Gibbons said his client, Fox, had hoped for acquittal here but expects better results in another 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.?

    Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks had also been arrested as part of the conspiracy before they pleaded guilty and testified in this trial.

    The alleged to kidnap Whitmer unraveled in October 2020, when more than a dozen men were arrested on federal and state charges.

    They sought to capture Whitmer from her vacation home and take her to Wisconsin where she'd be put on "trial," authorities have said.

    The Democratic governor had drawn the ire of far-right activists opposed to her pandemic restrictions that year to curb the spread of Covid.

    Armed protesters took to the streets of Lansing, the state capital, during the early days of Whitmer?s coronavirus orders. Then-President Donald Trump famously tweeted ?LIBERATE MICHIGAN!? that April.

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