GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A FBI informant accused by the feds of working both sides in the governor kidnap plot investigation will not have to testify for the defense in the ongoing federal trial.
Stephen Robeson, of Oxford, Wisconsin, considered a key witness for the defense, invoked the Fifth Amendment on Wednesday after federal prosecutors said he could face criminal charges, including obstruction of justice.
Among Robeson’s transgressions, federal prosecutors told the judge: Telling a man to destroy evidence, including dash cam footage of the governor’s cottage, not knowing that man was also an informant; and calling suspect Barry Croft Jr. to warn him the FBI was out to arrest him.
Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker agreed that testifying could expose Robeson to the risk of prosecution, and told him he wouldn’t have to.
Defense attorneys for Barry Croft Jr. and Adam Fox wanted him on the stand, saying Robeson worked behind the scenes as an informant to set up their clients and entrap them.
When asked outside the courthouse about the judge’s ruling on Robeson, Croft’s attorney Joshua Blanchard said, “Well, the judge said he didn’t have to testify. Apparently, the government doesn’t have to be held accountable for their actions. Guess that’s how it’s going to be.”
Robeson, a career felon with a long history of working as a police informant, was the focus of a Target 8 investigation before the trial started.
In an interview with Target 8 three weeks ago, Robeson denied entrapping the suspects.
“I don’t have nothing against them, but I don’t know what I can do to help them,” he told Target 8. “They certainly put themselves in a position.”
On Wednesday, he refused to comment outside the courthouse.
He was among at least a half-dozen defense witnesses who have invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Some were called to testify because they had been at militia training exercises.
Fox, Croft, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are charged with conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, allegedly angry because of her response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two other suspects have already pleaded guilty.
The defense 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.
“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,” the motion continues.
They said it was Robeson who contacted Croft and targeted him for the government.
“Additionally, Robeson would take defendants to riots and protests in an effort to get them worked up; then, using the recording device provided by the FBI, he would record them reacting to the situation in a state of anger,” they wrote.
At the field training exercises he planned, he would “sit out and record the entire event,” the attorneys said.
The feds charged Robeson with being a felon in possession of a weapon for illegally buying and selling a sniper rifle while he was working as an informant. It led to a guilty plea and probation.
He and his wife also are charged with fraud in Wisconsin. That case is pending.