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Judge finds cases against 5 in Whitmer plot can move forward

Posted at 1:12 PM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 16:32:11-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP/WXMI) — A federal judge has ruled that prosecutors have provided enough evidence to move toward trial for five Michigan men accused of plotting to kidnap the state’s governor.

A two-day preliminary hearing this week featured testimony by one of the FBI agents who ran the investigation, relying on confidential informants and undercover agents to thwart the purported scheme.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens said Friday that the five men’s cases can go to a grand jury, which will determine whether to issue indictments. That is required for them to face trial.

The cases are for Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, according to WXYZ.

Berens is also set to consider Friday whether two of the men should be denied bond.

The defense argued these were just a group of guys who liked to play with guns in the woods.

But the government is saying that if this was just a game to them, they wouldn't have tried so hard to make sure no one knew what they were doing, like encrypting conversations and worrying about someone in the group ratting them out.

The defense says there's more than meets the eye here, however.

Hundreds of hours of information isn't available to the defense right now.

Both the government and the defense say the sheer amount of material in this case makes it incredibly complicated.

"Our client and his family are salt of the earth people," said Mark Satawa, who is representing Ty Garbin. "They are good people. A mom and a dad who has adopted him, who served in the military. They own property, they work, they pay their taxes."

Garbin is alleged to have been one of the more heavily-involved participants in the plot.

Gary Springstead, also representing Garbin, says no one person could review hundreds of hours of tape.

"But look: They come to court ready to prove their complaint, and that's all they're able to prove right now," Springstead said. "Anything that benefits our client is at the bottom of their list of priorities. That's where the devil is: in the details. That's where we fully expect a lot of the things we heard about our client today is going to be disavowed and overturned."

All five men in Michigan involved are being detained by marshalls.

FOX 17's Julie Dunmire has more on today's hearing:

Defense attorneys react outside the courthouse: