Two men acquitted in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Two men acquitted in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Two men accused of scheming to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were acquitted by a federal jury Friday and a mistrial was declared for two other defendants after the panelists were unable to agree on a verdict. 

Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were each cleared of a charge of conspiracy, while Harris was also acquitted of knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against person or property, possession of an unregistered destructive device, and possession of an unregistered firearm.

After the weeks-long trial, the jury could not agree to a verdict on charges against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., each of whom was also accused of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. Croft was also accused of possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Prosecutors vowed to re-try Fox and Croft, who they described during trial as two of the leaders of the plot.

Daniel Harris
Daniel Harris was acquitted of conspiracy and a slate of other charges.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome. We have two defendants that are awaiting trial and we’ll get back to work on that,” US Attorney Andrew Birge said, declining further comment.

Two other men arrested in the alleged plot have already pleaded guilty. One of them, Ty Garbin, was sentenced to six years in prison in August of last year.

The defendants were a part of a group they called the “Wolverine Watchmen” that prosecutors said planned to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions and mandates she put in place during 2020. 

Brandon Caserta
Brandon Caserta was also acquitted in the plot to kidnap Whitmer.

Officials claimed that the crew surveyed the governor’s home and conducted field training exercises to practice “combat tactics, including assaulting motor vehicles using semiautomatic assault rifles and live ammunition.”

Whitmer has since defended the policies she implemented, saying last June that “the plots and threats against me, no matter how disturbing, could not deter me from doing everything I could to save as many lives as possible by listening to medical and health experts.”

“To me, it is very simple,” she added. “This had to be the priority.”

The purported plotters were infiltrated by a crew of FBI informants in October of 2020. At the time, more than a dozen men were arrested in the scheme. 

Barry Croft
Barry Croft Jr. received a mistrial after the jury could not agree on a verdict.
Adam Fox
Adam Fox also received a mistrial, and prosecutors vowed to re-try his and Barry Croft Jr.’s cases.

Defense attorneys argued that the men’s talk of kidnapping the governor was nothing more than marijuana-induced bluster. More seriously, they claimed FBI informants had initiated the kidnapping plan and coaxed the men into agreeing to the scheme.

Whitmer chief of staff JoAnne Huls blasted Friday’s outcome, saying in a statement that “Michiganders and Americans — especially our children — are living through the normalization of political violence.”

“The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we must be honest about what it really is: the result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country,” Huls added. “There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened.” 

With Post wires

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