GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Attorneys for the two men accused of leading a conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked the judge on Wednesday to compel a controversial informant to testify, accusing him of orchestrating much of the alleged plot.
The attorneys said informant Stephen Robeson, of Oxford, Wisconsin, has threatened to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
“Mr. Robeson has a prolific history of being a snitch,” attorneys for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. wrote in a motion to compel his testimony, which was filed on Wednesday.
They wrote he has worked as an informant since the early 2000s.
“Testimony shows that between late 2019 and May 2020, Robeson worked as a snitch with the Milwaukee, Norfolk, Baltimore, and Detroit field offices,” they wrote.
On Wednesday, after the jury in the trial of four suspects left the courtroom, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker questioned whether the attorneys still wanted Robeson to testify, citing a Target 8 interview with Robeson.
Christopher Gibbons, the attorney for Croft, responded: “Absolutely.”
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.”
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.
One of those suspects, Ty Garbin, testified on Wednesday, saying he joined the plot voluntarily and was not entrapped by Robeson or a second informant, Dan Chappel. He described Fox as a leader, and said it was Fox who directed a night-time reconnaissance mission of the governor’s cottage in Elk Rapids.
Garbin testified for federal prosecutors after pleading guilty to the conspiracy. He was sentenced to 75 months in prison, but said he hopes the feds will reduce that in exchange for his cooperation.
Defense attorneys have said they hope Robeson’s testimony later in the trial will help prove their clients were entrapped.
The attorneys, in the 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,” they 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,” 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.
“Despite that his actions were undertaken on behalf of the government with their knowledge and encouragement, Robeson now wishes to avoid testifying by invoking the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” the attorneys wrote. “He wishes to hide behind a threat of prosecution that has no basis as he was acting under the authority and authorization of his handlers and the FBI therefore does not provide a basis or “well-founded” fear of prosecution.”
The FBI said it dismissed Robeson as an informant after accusing him of working as a double agent. They said he tried to warn others to get rid of evidence, not knowing they were also informants.
In the interview with Target 8, he denied acting as a double-agent and said he never broke any of the FBI’s rules as an informant.
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.
The feds have said Robeson could face federal charges for his alleged role as a “double agent.”