GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked the judge to not allow controversial informant Stephen Robeson to testify in the trial of four men accused in the plot to kidnap the governor.
Defense attorneys want him to testify, saying he played a key role in entrapping the four.
The feds, in a motion filed on Friday, asked the court to hold a hearing to question Robeson away from the jury.
“After that hearing, the government anticipates that the Court should bar Steve’s testimony in its entirety,” according to the motion. “The government believes that, at a minimum, Steve will invoke his privilege against self-incrimination in response to the government’s questions on cross-examination. Assuming he does, his refusal to testify will be based on a well-founded fear of incriminating himself arising from his obstructive and other potentially criminal actions outside the scope of his work as a CHS (confidential human source).”
The feds said that the FBI terminated Robeson as an informant in October 2020.
“The reason: Steve had been breaking the law without authorization and surreptitiously assisting the other conspirators,” according to the motion.
The feds said he tried to help the defendants, instead of “acting solely for the FBI.”
He failed to let his FBI handlers know that Kaleb Franks, Ty Garbin and Brian Higgins had recorded their nighttime surveillance of the governor’s home on a dash-mounted camera, according to the motion.
“When agents arrested Fox, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta, agents told Steve not to notify anyone, including Croft, about the arrests; Steve did anyway, telling Croft he was wanted,” the motion said.
Robeson then called Dan Chappel, not knowing he was an informant, and told him to destroy footage that Franks took casing the governor’s house, according to the motion.
He later told Chappel to throw Croft’s firearm in the lake and get rid of a vehicle used during reconnaissance, the feds alleged.
“Steve dubiously claimed in a statement to agents that he did the above things to try and avoid being ‘outed’ as a source,” the motion states.
The feds wrote that Robeson’s “conduct as a CHS forms a link in the chain that could lead to a criminal conviction for his obstructive and unsanctioned conduct.”
Defense attorneys have said they hope Robeson’s testimony later in the trial will help prove their clients were entrapped.
The attorneys, in a court filing, wrote that Robeson played a major role behind the scenes, including:
- Appointing Fox as the commanding officer of the “fake” Michigan Chapter of the Patriot 3-Percenters group.
- Arranging meetings, providing conference rooms and coordinating field training exercises for the militia members.
- Transporting weapons, defendants and explosives across the country.
“His handling agents knew of his role within the group and acquiesced in his actions under the guise of maintaining access and credibility within the group,” the defense attorneys wrote. “Robeson is a, or in most cases the only, direct link that the defendants have to the alleged conspiracy because of his actions, coordination, and planning on behalf of the government.”
They said it was Robeson who contacted Croft and targeted him for the government.
In an interview with Target 8 on March 8, the first day of the trial, Robeson said the suspects were not entrapped.
“I don’t have nothing against them, but I don’t know what I can do to help them,” he said. “They certainly put themselves in a position.”