Two Not Guilty Verdicts and Two Jury Deadlocked Outcomes in Trial of Four Men Accused of Gretchen Whitmer Kidnapping Plot


Posted originally on the conservative tree house on April 8, 2022 | Sundance 

While we have not followed the case as closely as some, the original framework of the federal case against men accused in the kidnapping plot of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer seemed seriously sketchy from the outset.  When it was revealed that twelve FBI operatives were involved in the plot {LINK}, well, it looked like a classic entrapment case.

Six total suspects were arrested of the group of 18 total plotters.  Twelve of the eighteen were feds.  Two men took a plea deal for lesser charges leaving four men to stand trial.

After four weeks of testimony, the jury was given the ability to consider an entrapment defense. Four days of deliberations have resulted in a not guilty verdict for two of the suspects and a hung jury on two more.

MICHIGAN – A federal jury didn’t find four men suspected of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer guilty Friday.  

Brandon Caserta, 34, of Canton, and Daniel Harris, 24, of Lake Orion, were found not guilty of conspiring to kidnap, a potential life offense.  The jury was hung on conspiracy charges against Barry Croft Jr., 46, of Bear, Delaware, Adam Fox, 38, of Wyoming. 

Harris and Caserta were additionally found not guilty on additional weapons charges and will be released from detention. […] The U.S. Attorney’s Office could retry Fox and Croft, who remain jailed, on their unresolved counts. (more)

Julie Kelly followed the case closely, and she posts the following article [SEE HERE]

(AmGreatness) – […] A roster of FBI agents and experts took the stand during the three-week trial, which was temporarily delayed due to one participant’s COVID diagnosis; Dan Chappel, the lead informant and government’s star witness known as “Big Dan,” explained how he brought the makeshift group of alleged “militia” members together after he was hired by the FBI in March 2020. Chappel created encrypted chat groups and organized excursions for field training and surveillance of Whitmer’s cottage. (He, along with other FBI informants, posed as leaders of two “militia” groups, at least one of which was created by the FBI.)

For his work over a six-month period, Chappel, a truck driver for a U.S. Postal Service subcontractor, was compensated at least $60,000 by the FBI in cash and gifts such as a new laptop, tires, and a smart watch.

Prosecutors mostly relied on conversations secretly recorded by FBI assets as evidence of wrongdoing; two men charged in the same indictment had pleaded guilty and testified for the government in exchange for lighter prison sentences. (read more)

Ken Bensinger, from Buzzfeed News, covered the trial extensively, and he has a lengthy outline showing just how sketchy the case was; including the extreme lengths the federal prosecutors took to stop the defense from presenting the most damning evidence of the federal involvement [SEE HERE].

(BUZZFEED) – Despite the government’s extraordinary efforts to muzzle the defense, a jury in Grand Rapids federal court on Friday acquitted two men on charges including conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other two who had been charged.

As a result, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are now free men, while Adam Fox and Barry Croft return to jail and await a decision by the Justice Department on whether to try them a second time.

The outcome of the trial is a stunning rebuke to the prosecution, which at times appeared to view the case — one of the most prominent domestic terror investigations in a generation — as a slam dunk. The split verdict calls into question the Justice Department’s strategy, and beyond that, its entire approach to combating domestic extremism. Defense attorneys in the case, along with observers from across the political spectrum, have argued the FBI’s efforts to make the case, which involved at least a dozen confidential informants, went beyond legitimate law enforcement and into outright entrapment.

It may also leave the two defendants who chose to plead guilty and testify for the government, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, wondering whether they made the right choice. (read more)

From the outset in October 2020, everything around the “plot to kidnap” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer seemed sketchy, almost silly.   The goofy similarities and suspicions were familiar to those who remembered the sketchy October 2018 “mail bombing plot” that involved Cesar Sayoc.

It just didn’t seem coincidental that both 2018 and 2020 FBI exploits involved weird frameworks, odd suspects and obviously both operations just happened to culminate in October of an election year… Surprise!

Add to that suspicion all that was known about the FBI’s intense political motivations found in their activities over the past several years, including the sketchy attempt to frame candidate Donald Trump for a vast Russian election conspiracy, coordinated with the opposing candidate, Hillary Clinton, and well, suspicious cats were increasingly suspicious of the FBI engineered mess.

By the time FBI Director Chris Wray was questioned about the content of Sayoc’s Acme “mail bombs”, and he said they were comprised of: “energetic material that can become combustible when subjected to heat or friction,” yes, it could have been anything from matchsticks to coffee cream, well, eyes were rolling.  When the DOJ then sealed the evidence against Sayoc and all court documents behind the shroud of super-duper national security secrecy, the FBI political motives again seemed transparent.

That’s the backdrop two years later for the FBI’s vast Michigan militia plot to kidnap Whitmer…. and the side-eye from anyone who has ever paid attention to these matters.  Apparently, the results of the jury deliberations highlight the same likely federal intentions.

Yes, we live in rather remarkable times.

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