Three of six men accused of plotting to kidnap Whitmer denied bond in federal court
Testimony indicates they wanted to put Whitmer on boat, leave her on Lake Michigan
SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - The first of many court appearances took place Tuesday for five of the six suspects federally charged in an alleged plot to kidnap or kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The suspects appeared in a federal courtroom for preliminary and bond hearings, which are held to see if the men should remain in custody or possibly be released on a monetary bond.
Investigators say two of the men, Adam Fox and Ty Garbin, were the leaders in the alleged plot. Their attorneys wanted their bond hearings pushed to a later date, but hearings for three other suspects took place as scheduled.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens ruled that Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta will not be released on bond in the kidnapping conspiracy case and will remain in custody. The bond hearings for Fox and Garbin will be held on Friday.
Barry Croft is the sixth suspect facing federal charges for the alleged plot. He was arrested in his home state of Delaware and will be transferred to Michigan after a hearing in a Wilmington federal courtroom on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s hearings inside the federal courthouse in Grand Rapids featured testimony from an FBI agent. He said the Michigan suspects are part of a larger group of militia members from at least five states who met online and recruited members through social media to help them carry out attacks against government officials.
The FBI says the defendants were upset with Whitmer for lockdown orders to stave off the coronavirus pandemic.
Fox and others allegedly took close-up still photos and videos outside Whitmer’s northern Michigan cottage as part of the planning for a plot to kidnap her from the home prior to the Nov. 3 election. After his arrest, Fox eventually told the FBI agent he wanted to kidnap Whitmer, put her on a boat on Lake Michigan and leave her there.
Testimony showed the men and others took part in training exercises that included use of silencers on guns and exercises in busting down a door and extracting a hostage, according to photos, videos and testimony that was introduced as evidence.
The FBI agent testified that the six men who face federal charges differed from the seven other men who face state charges. He said Fox and the others wanted to avoid going to more protests in Lansing, while the state defendants seemed willing to participate in further public protests, as they continued to plan the kidnapping.
Seven other suspects facing state-level charges are due in court later this week.
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