Grand jury files new charge against men in Whitmer kidnapping plot

A federal grand jury on Wednesday approved new charges against three of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerWhitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll Michigan developing electrified road to wirelessly charge EVs, Whitmer says Michigan GOP governor hopeful says he would support state abortion ban: recording MORE (D), alleging they planned to blow up a bridge near Whitmer's home to hinder the response of her security team and law enforcement officials.

The superseding indictment charges Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. and Daniel Joseph Harris with “knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property.” 

The indictment also charges Croft and Harris with federal firearms violations. The court documents allege the two men “knowingly possessed a destructive device that was not registered to them in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record as required by federal law.”

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The charges come in addition to the kidnapping conspiracy charges filed against the three men, as well as Kaleb Franks and Brandon Caserta, in October of last year, when the FBI announced that it had foiled a plan to abduct the governor.

Whitmer had become increasingly unpopular with former President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE and his supporters due to her continued lockdown orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

One suspect in the case, 25-year-old Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty in January to the kidnapping conspiracy charge, telling authorities that he helped participate in developing a plan to kidnap Whitmer at her vacation home and to destroy a bridge to prevent a police pursuit.

Each of the six men faces up to life in prison for the kidnapping conspiracy charge, and the maximum punishment for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction is also a life sentence. 

According to the Justice Department, Croft and Harris each face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of possession of an unregistered destructive device. Harris also faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of possession of an unregistered short barrel rifle. 

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The new charges resulted from an ongoing FBI investigation, assisted by the the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including the Michigan State Police.

According to Wednesday’s indictment, Harris said in an encrypted online message on or around May 1, 2020, that he was a "Marine Corps infantry veteran who ‘can make things go boom if you give me what I need’” and could also use a “timing detonation cord.”

Investigators say that in July, Croft and Harris “traveled to Wisconsin from Delaware and Michigan, respectively, where they assembled and attempted to detonate two improvised explosive devices containing shrapnel” and that Croft in September “traveled from Delaware to Michigan to test improvised explosive devices in furtherance of the defendants’ plot to kidnap the Governor.” 

That same month, Fox and Croft while on their way to conduct surveillance at Whitmer’s vacation home allegedly “stopped to inspect the underside of a highway bridge for a place to mount an explosive charge.” 

The indictment also noted that Croft and Harris “successfully detonated an improvised explosive device containing shrapnel near human silhouette targets to assess its effectiveness as an anti-personnel weapon.” 

Around the same time, Fox allegedly ordered $4,000 worth of explosives from an undercover FBI agent who the indictment said was posing as a co-conspirator.

Updated at 2:20 p.m.