GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of gun enthusiasts was overblown by federal authorities into an illicit plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor, one of two men already acquitted in the case said.
“This is a group of dudes who shoot guns and talk crap,” Brandon Caserta, who was acquitted earlier this year, told reporters Thursday outside the federal courthouse in Grand Rapids.
In that courthouse, a jury has spent the last two weeks hearing prosecutors’ case against Barry Croft and Adam Fox. They are accused of conspiring with other militia members to kidnap the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with authorities saying they were angry about her orders for businesses and schools to shut down in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the first trial, a jury deadlocked on verdicts for Croft and Fox but acquitted Caserta and fellow defendant Daniel Harris.
“I think it’s ridiculous that the government still going to try to continue to push this narrative that these people are actually terrorists,” Caserta said. “I hope this jury does the same things the last jury did for us. (Fox and Croft) don’t deserve to be in here for saying mean things and offending people.”
Federal prosecutors says Fox and Croft’s actions went well beyond saying mean and offensive things.
For the last two weeks, they have presented evidence that they say shows Fox and Croft led the effort by organizing the planning and training to kidnap Whitmer from her northern Michigan cottage, either taking her to Wisconsin, where they would try her in a kangaroo court, or leaving her stranded on a boat in Lake Michigan.
The defense claims the FBI, through undercover agents and informants were behind the plan and that Fox and Croft were duped into going along with it.
“The FBI obviously concocted this entire thing. Without their presence, this would have never happened,” Caserta said.
Testimony in the retrial is expected to end Friday and closing arguments are expected Monday. The case will then go to the jury.
Caserta spent 18 months in jail before being acquitted on April 8, his birthday. And while he thinks Fox and Croft should be found not guilty, he didn’t help their case. He was subpoenaed to testify for the defense but instead invoked his Fifth Amendment rights earlier this week and did not take the stand. He is clear of federal charges but there were concerns his testimony could incriminate him in pending state cases involving the plot.
He said he’s not giving up his anti-government beliefs but he’s also not looking over his shoulder.
“Everything was taken from me. My entire life was just taken from beneath me and I’m still trying to build that back up. But It’s happening. It’s moving forward,” Caserta said.
“I live my life and do my things without fear,” he continued. “I’m sure the FBI is still going to continue to watch me, probably forever. But so what? It doesn’t change my beliefs.”