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Defense claims 'entrapment' in federal Whitmer kidnap criminal case

Kidnapping plot evidence
courtesy U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan
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A training exercise involving the men accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Five men accused of hatching an alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer are asking a judge to dismiss the charges against them.

In the motion filed on Christmas day, defense attorneys argue the government’s plan was to turn general discontent with Governor Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions into a crime that could be prosecuted.

In 2020, federal agents claimed they foiled a plot to kidnap the governor by ‘extremist’ militia men. Prosecutors claim the evidence shows defendants Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta conspired to kidnap the governor from her vacation home.

But defense attorneys claim “egregious overreaching by the government’s agents, and by the informants those agents handled” and say they committed serious acts of misconduct.

Defense attorneys claim they can “establish entrapment”.

The 20-page motion asks U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker to dismiss the conspiracy charge, which would effectively end the federal government's case and other connected charges.

There has been no response yet from federal prosecutors. Though in the past, prosecutors denied defense claims of entrapment.

The defense request comes after allegations and developments about the government's team in the case, including the conviction of an FBI special agent who was arrested on a domestic violence charge and later fired and convicted of a misdemeanor.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in March.

A sixth defendant, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal.

Eight men are facing related charges in state courts.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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