GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two FBI agents who were involved in the bust of an alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will have to use their real names if the government calls them to testify in court.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Robert Jonker issued a ruling Thursday that the two men may not testify under their pseudonyms, “Red” and “Mark.” The government had asked for their real names to be concealed to maintain the integrity of their unrelated undercover work and because of fears about their safety.
Defense attorneys had argued that allowing them to testify using pseudonyms would suggest to jurors that the defendants are so dangerous that even FBI agents are afraid of them.
“The Court is satisfied that if the government calls the agents to testify, they must do so using their true names,” Jonker wrote. “At this point in the case, the Court believes the balance of interests tips decidedly in favor of openness. It is time for all guise and pretense to end and for the prosecution to present the evidence in an open forum with witnesses testifying using their true identity.”
He said he understood the government’s concerns but that the defense must be given the chance to “present a meaningful cross examination.”
Jonker did, however, say that the agents’ names could remain hidden until the day before they are called to testify in an effort to minimize risk.
Jury selection begins Tuesday in the trial of Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft, Adam Fox and Daniel Harris. The four men face federal charges for their roles in the kidnapping plot, which the FBI says it broke up in October 2020.
The men, along with two others who have already pleaded to federal charges and several more whose cases are working their way through the state courts, allegedly conspired to kidnap Whitmer because they were unhappy about her mandates meant to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Their trial is expected to take longer than a month.