The attorney for a man accused of being involved in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer alleged that an FBI agent instructed an informant to lie and delete text messages that would reveal the agency was unlawfully furthering the conspiracy.
Attorney Michael Hills, who represents defendant Brandon Caserta, made the accusations Friday in a court filing, asking Judge Robert Jonker of the Western District of Michigan to order the government to produce all communications between Special Agents Impola Henrik and Jayson Chambers and the informant of the Wolverine Watchmen militia group, known as "Dan."
Hills provided images purporting to show Impola telling Dan to "be sure to delete these," apparently referring to messages discussing the plot.
Henrik also instructed Dan to accuse another person associated with the group, who was not ultimately among the six indicted by the Justice Department in connection to the plot, of being a federal agent, according to Hills.
"Copy. Best thing to do is deny and accuse somebody else like Trent," the message allegedly said.
“These text messages indicate the F.B.I. was pushing their paid agent to actively recruit people into an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy,” Hills wrote in the filing.
Hills said he suspected the communications reveal the FBI's informant was the "person at the center of all activity" and that the agents pushed him "to actively recruit and entice people to either enter a conspiratorial agreement or an overt act in support of an agreement."
He also said the defense team's need for further materials is "self-evident," indicating they would be employed for an entrapment defense and used to address the government witnesses and its methods during trial.
Hills's request follows the publication of a report revealing the FBI's deep involvement in the militia group's alleged plot, something defendants have relied on in denying the charges. The agency had a dozen informants working on the case, including one who became the group's second-in-command.
However, federal prosecutors argue the defendants were not entrapped and that the FBI was not involved in furthering the conspiracy. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler wrote in a recent filing that “defendants were predisposed to join the kidnapping and explosive conspiracies."
Special Agent Richard Trask, who was involved in the case, was arrested in June for allegedly beating his wife during a dispute over a swingers' party.
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman