5 of 6 indicted in governor kidnapping plot plead not guilty

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks about a plot to kidnap her during an Oct. 8, 2020, press conference in Lansing. (Courtesy Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Five of the six men charged with conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court.

A federal grand jury indicted the six men on the conspiracy charge, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison.

The five who pleaded not guilty appeared in federal court by video feed in U.S. District Court in separate hearings Thursday. They are Daniel Harris, 23, of Lake Orion; Ty Garbin, 24, of Livingston County; Kaleb Franks, 26, of Waterford; Adam Fox, 37, of Wyoming, and Brandon Caserta, 32, of Canton Township.

Barry G. Croft Jr., 44, of Bear, Delaware, also was indicted by a federal grand jury in the conspiracy, but no date has been set for his arraignment.

Fox, who lived in the basement of a Grand Rapids vacuum cleaner shop, was a member of the Michigan III%ers militia group and was the leader of the conspiracy, the feds said.

Adam Fox and Joseph Morrison at an American Patriot rally in Lansing on June 18, 2020.
Adam Fox and Joseph Morrison at an American Patriot rally in Lansing on June 18, 2020.

Eight men believed to be members of a second anti-government group, the Wolverine Watchmen, also are accused in the scheme. They are charged in state court with crimes that include providing material support for terrorist acts.

Some of the Wolverine Watchmen are accused of planning and training for other violent crimes, including storming the Michigan Capitol building.

Authorities say the alleged conspirators targeted Whitmer because they believed her executive orders in response to the coronavirus were an overreach of her power.

A human silhouette, crudely painted in red on a wooden wall at a remote area in Luther, Mich. in what the federal government is calling a training facility for militia members who were trying to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Apparently, the plan was to take her to Wisconsin and try her for treason or leave her stranded in a boat in Lake Michigan.

Investigators said some of the suspects scoped out the governor’s vacation home in Antrim County. The group also allegedly designed and tested bombs, bought a Taser to use in the abduction and discussed blowing up a bridge, investigators have said.

The M-31 bridge in Elk Rapids. (October 2020)

Federal and state authorities broke up the alleged plot in early October with help from paid informants and an undercover agent.

The FBI said it had been keeping an eye on the group since early in the year after becoming aware of online posts about overthrowing the government.

Defense attorneys for some of the men have said they were guilty of nothing but talking big.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Stories On WOODTV.com

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

MORE: Inside the plot on Gov. Whitmer

More Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot