TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan. – The Federal Grand Jury has accused six men of abducting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a case investigators say was committed by anti-government extremists angry at his coronavirus policy.
U.S. lawyer Andrew Birge, on Thursday, indicted Adam Dean Fox, Barry Gordon Croft Jr., Ty Gerard Garbin, Kaleb James Franks, Daniel Joseph Harris and Brandon Michael-Ray Caserta on conspiracy charges. They are all from Michigan, except for Croft, who lives in Delaware.
The indictment carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, Birge said in a statement.
The six were arrested in early October after the FBI launched an investigation into the alleged act of kidnapping the Democratic governor at his vacation home in northern Michigan.
Defense attorneys said their clients were “big talkers” who did not intend to follow the alleged plan.
The indictment reiterates allegations made at an October hearing where Agent Richard Trask testified that the men were associated with paramilitary groups.
Fox and Croft attended a June meeting in Dublin, Ohio, to discuss the possible abduction of governors and other actions, the indictment said. During the trial, Trask said Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is among the potential targets.
He claims Fox later met Garbin, the leader of a Michigan group called “Wolverine Watchmen,” at a demonstration outside Lansing outside the Michigan Capitol. At the Grand Rapids meeting, the two men and the rest of the Watchmen agreed to work together “for their common goals,” the document said.
It describes the “field exercises” and other preparations organized by the live fire, including supervising Whitmer’s vacation home and exchanging encrypted messages.
During one of the training events, “the building was abused in troops and the fighting over the governor’s security details with thrifty explosives, projectiles and other weapons was discussed,” the indictment said.
They also discussed the need to destroy a highway bridge near Whitmer’s house to prevent law enforcement from responding, he says.
According to the indictment, in an electronic message, Caserta wrote that if men meet with police during a reconnaissance mission, “they must give officers an opportunity to leave and be killed if they do not comply.”
They were arrested after four members scheduled a Oct. 7 meeting west of Detroit in Ypsilanti to meet with a covered FBI agent and buy explosives and other supplies, the indictment said.
Eight other men who are allegedly members or staff members of the Wolverine Watchmen are being prosecuted in state court, including for financial support for terrorist acts. Some of them are accused of having been involved in the alleged act against Whitmer.