6 men indicted in alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor

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FILE - This photo combo shows from top left, Kaleb Franks, Brandon Caserta, Adam Dean Fox, and bottom left, Daniel Harris, Barry Croft, and Ty Garbin. A federal grand jury has charged six men with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in what investigators say was a plot by anti-government extremists angry over her policies to prevent spread of the coronavirus. An indictment released Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, by U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge levied the charge against Adam Dean Fox, Barry Gordon Croft Jr., Ty Gerard Garbin, Kaleb James Franks, Daniel Joseph Harris and Brandon Michael-Ray Caserta. (Kent County Sheriff via AP File)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – A federal grand jury has charged six men with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in what investigators say was a plot by anti-government extremists who were angry over her coronavirus policies.

The indictment released Thursday by U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge levied the conspiracy charge against Adam Dean Fox, Barry Gordon Croft Jr., Ty Gerard Garbin, Kaleb James Franks, Daniel Joseph Harris and Brandon Michael-Ray Caserta. They are all from Michigan except for Croft, who lives in Delaware.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, Birge said in a statement.

The six were arrested in early October following an FBI investigation into an alleged plot to kidnap the Democratic governor at her vacation home in northern Michigan.

Defense attorneys have said their clients were “big talkers” who didn’t intend to follow through on the alleged plan.

The indictment repeats allegations made during an October hearing, where agent Richard Trask testified that the men were involved with paramilitary groups.

Fox and Croft attended a June meeting in Dublin, Ohio, at which the possible kidnapping of governors and other actions were discussed, the indictment states. During the hearing, Trask said Virginia's Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, was among those mentioned as potential targets.

It says Fox later met Garbin, a leader of a Michigan group called the “Wolverine Watchmen,” at a rally outside of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. At a meeting in Grand Rapids, the two men and other members of the Watchmen agreed to work together “toward their common goals,” the document says.