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6 indicted on federal charges in Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot

Brandon Caserta has been indicted on one count of kidnapping conspiracy. File Photo courtesy of the Kent County Sheriff's Office
Brandon Caserta has been indicted on one count of kidnapping conspiracy. File Photo courtesy of the Kent County Sheriff's Office | License Photo

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A federal grand jury has indicted six men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

The indictment charged Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft, Adam Fox, Kaleb Franks, Ty Garbin and Daniel Harris each with one count of kidnapping conspiracy.

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If convicted, they each face up to life in prison.

The Detroit Free Press reported that more charges could be added at a future date.

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The six men conspired with others connected to militia groups between June 6 and Oct. 7 to "take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the U.S. Constitution," an FBI affidavit said. The group allegedly wanted to take action against Whitmer in response to her pandemic-related stay-at-home orders.

Agents said the plot included recruiting hundreds of followers to storm the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing before the Nov. 3 election, taking Whitmer hostage and putting her on trial for "treason."

The men also discussed countering law enforcement responders with Molotov cocktails, the affidavit said.

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The indictment said one of the men told his co-conspirators that if they encountered a law enforcement officer, they should give them an opportunity to leave, but kill them if not.

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Using information gathered by an informant, the FBI said some of the militia members also twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer's vacation home in western Michigan and discussed kidnapping her there.

Lawyers for the six men said they never intended to harm anyone and the alleged plot was merely talk.

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Of the more than a dozen men arrested in relation to the plot, these six were the only ones charged with federal crimes. The rest face state charges.

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