Court hearing resumes in plot to kidnap Michigan governor

Friday, October 16, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Five of the men accused in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will return to federal court Friday as a hearing on whether there is enough evidence to charge them continues.

A federal judge also plans to consider whether two of the men, including the Michigan man described by federal authorities as the ringleader of the effort, should remain in jail before trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens on Tuesday ordered Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta held without bond until trial, saying their repeated participation in discussions about abducting Michigan’s Democratic governor and surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home validated the decision. Berens is scheduled to make bond decisions Friday for Adam Fox and Ty Garbin.

A sixth man, Delaware resident Barry Croft, was separately ordered to be transferred to Michigan ear lier this week.

The preliminary hearing began Tuesday and featured hours of testimony by a lead FBI agent on the Michigan case, revealing new detail about investigators’ use of confidential informants, undercover agents and encrypted communication to thwart the purported scheme.

Agent Richard Trask also said members of anti-government paramilitary groups from several states discussed abducting Whitmer or Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, during a June meeting in Ohio.

Fox and Croft were among those who attended that session, according to testimony and federal court documents. But it was not clear if talk of targeting Northam went beyond that meeting, and nothing from the complaint or Trask’s testimony indicated that anyone had been charged with a plot involving Northam.

The men could get up to life in prison if convicted.

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