by WorldTribune Staff, August 17, 2021
An FBI agent told an informant to lie and to delete text messages between them, casting a “dark shadow” over the case against the defendants in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, an attorney for one of the six defendants in the case said.
Attorney Michael Hills, representing Brandon Caserta, asked a federal judge to order the government to produce all communications between a paid informant, identified only as “Dan,” and the FBI in the Whitmer case, MLive’s John Agar reported on Aug. 14.
Hills sought cellphone data of Dan, along with FBI special agents Henrik Impola and Jayson Chambers.
“These text messages indicate the FBI was pushing their paid agent to actively recruit people into an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy,” Hills wrote in a court filing. “Counsel has found further text messages between (special agent) Impola and Dan indicating Dan should destroy his text messages and instruct Dan to lie and accuse an innocent 3rd party of being a federal agent spy to the founder of Wolverine Watchmen.”
Related: Report: FBI assets controlled nearly every aspect of Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot, July 21, 2021
Wolverine Watchmen is a militia group whose members are allegedly tied to the plot to kidnap Whitmer.
According to Hills, the informant Dan told Impola that the Watchman founder suspected him of being a federal agent. Dan said someone else vouched for him.
Hills provided the court a transcript in which the FBI agent allegedly said: “Copy. Best thing to do is deny and accuse somebody else like Trent.”
Hills said the FBI agent also wrote: “Be sure to delete these.”
The man named Trent is on the “outskirts of the Wolverine Watchmen” and has not been charged, Hills said.
“The FBI is instructing a paid FBI informant to lie and paint an innocent citizen as an undercover federal agent to a man they claim is the head of a domestic terrorist organization, who they claim is paranoid about being infiltrated by the feds, who they claim has bragged about tossing a Molotov cocktail into a police officer’s house,” Hills noted. “This behavior, evidenced by the telephonic communication between FBI handler Impola and Dan, casts a dark shadow over the credibility of this investigation and demonstrates the need for immediate disclosure as demanded.”
Hills said the FBI informant Dan was “at the center of all activity” and recruited others to join the alleged conspiracy.
“The defense need for this material at this point is self-evident, that is for purposes of entrapment defense, credibility of government witnesses, the indicted defendants’ own statements and evidence of government methods and tactics,” Hills wrote in the court filing.
Defense attorney Christopher Gibbons, representing Adam Fox of Wyoming, says that government informants “were originators of the criminal design in this case, to the extent that a ‘design’ ever existed.”
Caserta, Fox, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris and Kaleb Franks await an Oct. 12 trial in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. A sixth defendant, Ty Garbin, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to kidnap conspiracy.