One defendant filed a discovery motion after the lawyer found messages between an FBI agent and an informant proving entrapment.
BuzzFeed News dropped a huge bombshell regarding the alleged plot by a militia to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Only one of the 14 defendants pleaded guilty to the plot. The others claimed they never plotted to kidnap Whitmer.
The outlet reviewed the evidence and found some shocking details that back up their defense.
It turns out at least 12 of the FBI confidential informants had a larger role in the plot than outlets have reported:
An examination of the case by BuzzFeed News also reveals that some of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.
A longtime government informant from Wisconsin, for example, helped organize a series of meetings around the country where many of the alleged plotters first met one another and the earliest notions of a plan took root, some of those people say. The Wisconsin informant even paid for some hotel rooms and food as an incentive to get people to come.
The Iraq War vet, for his part, became so deeply enmeshed in a Michigan militant group that he rose to become its second-in-command, encouraging members to collaborate with other potential suspects and paying for their transportation to meetings. He prodded the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping plot to advance his plan, then baited the trap that led to the arrest.
The prosecution insists their evidence, consisting of social media posts, text messages, and recordings, prove the defendants had anti-government feelings and wanted to kidnap or kill “law enforcement officers and elected officials.”
The defendants said, “their talk never rose beyond the level of fantasy and they never intended to harm anyone.” They accuse the government of targeting them due to their political views:
Although they have not denied participating in training events, attending meetings, and communicating with other defendants, they claim that no actual conspiracy to kidnap the governor ever existed.
Instead, they say, they were targeted because of their political views. Some describe the case as a premeditated campaign by the government to undermine the Patriot movement, an ideology based on fealty to the Second Amendment and the conviction that the government has violated the Constitution and is therefore illegitimate. They argue that the recordings and text messages that the government calls proof of a criminal conspiracy are in fact constitutionally protected speech — expressions of frustration at what they see as the government’s betrayal of its citizens.
Brandon Caserta’s lawyer filed a motion to compel discovery of one of the FBI informants, codenamed “Thor.” The motion includes text messages between the informant and an FBI agent. Caserta asserts the messages show the FBi agent directed the informant “to draw specific people into the conspiracy — potential evidence of entrapment that he said the government ‘inadvertently disclosed.'”
The motion identifies the FBI handlers as Impola and Chambers.
The lawyer requested “all texts sent and received by that informant.” Other lawyers have thought about taking similar actions.
The lawyer wrote: “The evidence is material to the preparation of the dense because the Defendant is likely to assert a defense of entrapment and being able to demonstrate the trajectory of the F.B.I.’s directives to CHS-2 over time and how the Defendant’s involvement was ‘instigated by overzealous law enforcement agents…'”
Also from the motion:
What is surprising, and was unknowable to the defense, is S.A. Impola’s encouragement to CHS-2 to bring Caserta into one of the two recons, recons that are overt acts in the government’s superseding indictment, and thus into the conspiracy. Further, to push the recon into a specific location, location 1. This active participation of the F.B.I supports the defense theory of entrapment in that the government, or someone acting for the government, induced or persuaded the defendant to commit a crime, or an act in furtherance of the crime.
The defense found the text messages “buried within hundreds of thousands of pdf reports, documents, text messages, audio recordings and photographs.”
“Ths type of evidence is material and critical to the defense that CHS-2 was actively attempting to pull together a conspiracy together, create overt acts and he was doing it as a paid informant at the behest and direction of his F.B.I. handlers,” wrote Castera’s lawyer.
Other attorneys noted the informant profited from his role despite claiming he did all this as a Good Samaritan:
[Lawyer Kareem] Johnson and the other defense lawyers have taken pains to note that despite his claims that he acted as a good Samaritan, Dan was rewarded financially for his work as an informant. In testimony, Dan described how his handlers eventually gave him envelopes of cash, covered his mortgage and car payment, and also bought him a phone, computer, and the new vehicle. When Dan sold his house in December because he was concerned people in the Patriot movement knew his address, the bureau even reimbursed him for what he testified was a $4,500 loss on the deal. The grand total for his seven months of work, including reimbursement for expenses, was $54,793.95, considerably more than most families in Dan’s part of Michigan bring home in a year.
“All of this evidence underscores the extremely active and coercive role the CHSs played in this matter,” wrote Scott Graham, Kaleb Franks’ attorney, in a motion filed last week.
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