Defendants Seek Acquittal From Whitmer Kidnap Conspiracy Charges

By Ken Silva
Ken Silva
Ken Silva
Ken Silva is a former reporter for The Epoch Times.
May 2, 2022 Updated: May 2, 2022

Two of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 have filed a motion for acquittal following a federal jury’s failure to reach a verdict against them.

The motions from Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. follow a federal jury’s April 8 decision to find Wolverine Watchmen Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta not guilty of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Jurors failed to reach a verdict on Fox and Croft.

Prosecutors immediately announced their intention to retry Fox and Croft, but those men filed motions on April 22 for U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker to grant them a judgment of acquittal.

In their separate motions, Fox and Croft reiterated arguments they’ve made since their October 2020 arrests—that they were entrapped into the conspiracy by federal law enforcement. Fox’s attorney, Christopher Gibbons, said testimony from undercover informants during the trial provided further evidence of entrapment.

[FBI informant Dan Chappel] admitted that he had suggested looking for the Governor’s vacation house on August 9, 2020, and that he had invited Adam Fox to go along on the ride. Dan also admitted that he had the ‘realtor app’ on his phone to find the Governor’s address, not Fox. Dan admitted that he had provided the paper and pen to Fox on which Fox drew the infamous ‘map,'” he said.

“Dan also admitted that Adam Fox did not keep the map and that he had personally taken the map and given it to the FBI.”

Gibbons also argued that the government had failed to prove its case against his client.

During the trial, the government “produced evidence that Adam Fox was prone to speaking offensively, making objectively anti-government statements, and juvenile remarks casually advocating violence,” he said.

“All of this ‘evidence’ was intended to create the inference that Adam Fox was engaged in a sophisticated, paramilitary exercise designed to kidnap the Governor. The Government did not provide any evidence that Fox was even communicating with any of the other Defendants to agree, plan, or otherwise pursue the kidnapping of the Governor. The evidence presented by the Government was insufficient.”

Croft’s attorney, Josh Blanchard, said another trial would violate the double jeopardy clause, which is the principle that government shouldn’t be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense.

He also argued that the government’s case against his client was further diminished by the not-guilty verdict of Harris, who was alleged to have conspired with Croft about blowing up a bridge as part of the plot. Since Harris has been acquitted of possessing an explosive device, then Croft should be, too, Blanchard said.

“In acquitting Mr. Harris, the jury necessarily determined that either the device was not a ‘destructive device’ or that Mr. Harris did not know that the device was a ‘destructive device,'” he said.

“If the conclusion was that the device was not a ‘destructive device,’ the government should be precluded from relitigating that issue, and Mr. Croft is entitled to an acquittal. If, however … the jury determined Mr. Harris did not know the object was a ‘destructive device,’ Mr. Croft is still entitled to an acquittal because the government failed to present any more evidence regarding Mr. Croft’s knowledge of the status of the device as compared to Mr. Harris.”

Prosecutors haven’t responded to the defendants, nor has Jonker set a date for the motions to be heard. A sentencing hearing for Kaleb Franks, who pleaded guilty to the charges in February, is scheduled for June 8.

The federal trial is separate from a state case involving defendants Joseph Morrison, Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar, who are accused of providing material support to the kidnap plotters. Their trial is set to begin in September.

Ken Silva
Ken Silva is a former reporter for The Epoch Times.