GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Witness testimony continued Thursday in the case of four men who are accused of planning to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer back in 2020.
Special FBI Agent Todd Reineck took the stand first in a continuation of his testimony from Wednesday.
Reineck revealed to prosecutors that the agency can use an unlimited number of undercover informants in an investigation. The undercover operation into the four defendants utilized a dozen.
“We use as many as it takes,” said Sp. Agent Reineck.
Cameras and recordings aren’t allowed in federal courtrooms, but Sp. Agent Reineck sat on the witness stand in a dark suit and red striped tie.
He told the jury the FBI sent in confidential informants with recording devices disguised to look like everyday items, like key fobs. He also revealed the agency planted hidden live cameras to surveil the group at two training camps they used to conduct field exercises – one in Munith and one in Luther.
Sp. Agent Reineck said the investigation reached a boiling point when they learned some of the defendants tried to purchase explosives from sources not associated with the FBI.
Reineck was also asked to identify several members of the alleged plot on video and in messages, including one sent by Barry Croft that said, “We aren’t just training without a purpose.” That message was sent to a group ahead of a training exercise in Luther.
“If somebody said that ‘the training wasn't without a purpose, if you get my drift’ in that same conversation, would that cause you concern?” U.S. Prosecutor Nils Kessler asked Sp. Agent Reineck.
“Yes,” replied Reineck.
On cross-examination, Christopher Gibbons, attorney for defendant Adam Fox, laid out the argument that despite tough-talk and use of firearms on video, there was nothing illegal about what the defendants did.
Reineck told Gibbons there was, in fact, nothing illegal about belonging to a militia group, conducting field exercises, or even storming the Capitol armed, as several of the men did in April of 2020. Gibbons said Fox even submitted to a COVID-19 temperature check at the door that day.
Testimony then moved on the Special Agent Leslie Larsen with the FBI. She showed the jury 3D recreations of key locations in the plot, like the governor’s vacation home, the group’s training camps in Luther and Munith, and the Vac Shack basement in Wyoming, Michigan, where Adam Fox was living at the time of his arrest.
Secret recordings obtained by undercover FBI informants give a deeper look into the seriousness of the plans the men were allegedly hatching to murder law enforcement officers and kidnap the governor.
The revelations came during testimony from Special Agent Christopher Long with the FBI, who told the jury he was the one who provided the recording device to confidential human source Steve Robeson.
Court adjourned around 2 p.m. on Thursday. Court will be out of session on Friday, but testimony will resume Monday.
The defense of all four men rests on a claim of entrapment, driven by the idea that FBI informants had personal and monetary motivations for convincing the men to commit a higher crime.
All four defendants, Daniel Harris, Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta, and Barry Croft are facing one count each of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Fox and Harris face one count each of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction for their alleged test run of an IED detonation. Harris and Croft are also charged with possession of an unregistered disruptive device. Harris also faces one count of possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle that he allegedly carried with him to a training.
Follow along with FOX 17 throughout the day as we bring you the latest updates every day of the trial.