A man acquitted of all charges in the alleged conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) spoke out Friday as the retrial for two other defendants in the case is concluding.
Brandon Caserta, a former member of the Wolverine Watchmen militia group, told reporters Friday that the FBI “concocted” the alleged kidnapping plot and that without the interference of undercover agents, no one would have attempted to commit a crime.
“People say things that are offensive and, you know, may sound violent, but there’s a difference between actually physically doing violence or just being around a group of people and talking crap,” Caserta told WDIV-TV.
“If the government wasn’t involved in this situation, it would have never gotten to where it is now,” he said.
In October 2020, authorities uncovered an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer with the aid of multiple informants and undercover FBI agents. More than a dozen men were arrested and six were charged in federal court, while the remaining suspects were charged with state crimes.
Of those facing federal charges, Caserta and Daniel Harris were found not guilty on all charges in April. A jury failed to reach a verdict against defendants Adam Fox and Barry Croft, leading the judge to declare a mistrial. Two remaining defendants, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, pled guilty before their trials. Garbin is currently serving a six-year prison sentence and Franks is awaiting sentencing.
Fox and Croft are currently in court awaiting the outcome of their retrials.
Authorities say the two men are domestic terrorists who orchestrated the alleged kidnapping plot after expressing anger at Whitmer’s pandemic health orders, which forced businesses and schools to shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“These defendants were outside a woman’s house in the middle of the night with night-vision goggles and guns and a plan to kidnap her,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said in his closing arguments Monday. “And they made a real bomb. That’s far enough, isn’t it?”
“I think it’s ridiculous that the government’s still going to try to continue to push this narrative that these people are actually terrorists,” Caserta said Friday outside the federal courthouse in Grand Rapids where Fox and Croft are being tried. “I hope this jury does the same things the last jury did for us. (Fox and Croft) don’t deserve to be in here for saying mean things and offending people.”
The defense argues the alleged kidnapping plot was actually the result of FBI entrapment, and that undercover FBI agents goaded members of the Wolverine Watchmen into doing and saying things they otherwise would never have done or said.
“The FBI obviously concocted this entire thing. Without their presence, this would have never happened,” Caserta said, according to WOOD-TV.
The jury began deliberations Monday after both sides in the trial delivered their closing remarks. They are expected to deliver a verdict later this week.