Whitmer Kidnaps Suspect Adam Fox Wants Review Texts
In Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s first kidnap conspiracy trial, the jury heard no statements or text messages that a paid undercover FBI informant known as Big Dan made to suspects while spying on them.
The jury was also not allowed to hear about a private internet security firm run by an FBI agent while investigating the Whitmer case.
Adam Fox tries to change this go-around.
Man accused of ringleader faces new trial and argues jurors need to hear what Big Dan told him and others via text and in person so they can figure out what that he claims to have actually happened – that Big Dan and the FBI ran the whole show and concocted the kidnapping plan.
Fox also wants jurors to know about the parallel activities of FBI Special Agent Jayson Chambers — a cyber-intelligence firm called Exeintel that he set up in 2019 and oversaw while investigating the Whitmer case. Fox’s attorney alleges Chambers used the kidnapping case to boost his company’s business, saying “successful disruption of a domestic terrorist plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan would most certainly benefit” his company .
“(A) jury should be allowed to decide whether his unauthorized outside business interest impacted the investigation of this case,” defense attorney Christopher Gibbons claims in a new court filing, noting that the argument is neither long nor complex to explain to a jury.
“It’s simple and it’s plausible,” Gibbons argues. “In fact, it’s more plausible than the argument that a homeless man living in the basement of a vacuum cleaner repair shop with no working toilet was the leader of a domestic terror cell with a “kill squad” at his command preparing to storm the house of a sitting governor.”
Gibbons was referring to Fox.
In a filing late Tuesday, Fox’s attorney filed several motions and exhibits urging the judge to allow him to make arguments that were prohibited in the first trial, in which four men were charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. out of anger at his COVID. -19 orders. Two others pleaded guilty early on and testified against the four at trial.
Meanwhile, Gibbons now wants to focus more on the words and actions of Big Dan – a paid FBI informant who received $54,000 from the FBI for embedding himself in the defendants’ militia for nearly seven months in 2020. .
It was Big Dan, the defense says, who came up with the idea to cram Whitmer’s vacation cabin, who set up surveillance, scheduled meetings, encouraged people to go and repeatedly offered cards -prepaid Visa gifts to Fox, who was broke but refused. offers.
But the jury was unable to see any of Big Dan’s text or audio recording transcripts on the big screen in the courtroom, as it did for the suspects, as prosecutors argued it it was hearsay and U.S. District Chief Judge Robert Jonker agreed. The defense was also not allowed to release audio recordings of Big Dan speaking to his clients.
It can’t and shouldn’t happen again, argues Fox’s attorney.
“The FBI shouldn’t be allowed to hire civilians to do what they can’t do and then be allowed to exclude it from consideration in a courtroom by calling it ‘hearsay'” , Gibbons claims in his court filing. “The government should not be able to hide the work of its informants behind the rules of evidence, whether that work is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Both the public and the accused have a stake in transparency.”
After: Feds reveal how ‘double agent’ in Whitmer kidnapping plot got fired
After: Family Reveals Inside Life of Adam Fox, Suspected Mastermind of Whitmer Kidnap Plot
Big Dan was a key government witness in the government’s landmark domestic terrorism trial that ended in April without a conviction. Two defendants, Daniel Harris, 24, of Lake Orion – the only one to testify at trial – and Brandon Caserta, 33, of Canton, were acquitted. The jury is deadlocked on the charges against Fox and co-defendant Barry Croft, triggering a mistrial.
A new trial is tentatively scheduled for August 9 in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.
At the first trial, Big Dan was among the key government witnesses and testified about his role in the case. He told jurors he was a postman and former army sergeant who joined the Wolverine Watchmen militia largely to protect gun rights, but he quickly left the group after hearing from members talk about killing police officers. He then went undercover for the FBI.
The defense argues that Big Dan was only trying to build his resume and framed the defendants along the way.
Fox’s attorney hasn’t identified Big Dan’s text messages or statements to Fox that he wants to admit — only that he wants to use them. But he cited text messages he wants to show between Big Dan and his FBI Chambers handler. The two exchanged 3,236 messages over a period of almost seven months in 2020, an average of around 16 messages per day.
The defense says Big Dan and Chambers were both trying to supplement their resumes with the Whitmer case.
The government chose not to use Chambers as a witness at trial. Chambers was among four rogue actors in the Whitmer investigation who were kicked off the case for misdeeds the defense hoped to use to derail the government’s case.
Specifically, the defense wanted jurors to know that while Chambers was overseeing the Whitmer case, he was also busy marketing his new security company he started in the summer of 2019 in New Mexico. That was months before he recruited Big Dan, to infiltrate the Wolverine Watchmen, and over a year before the suspects in Whitmer’s kidnapping were arrested.
The defense sought to tell the jury that Chambers was financially motivated to secure arrests in the Whitmer case, arguing that he once tried to secure a $6 million contract for his private security firm while working on another FBI case.
But the judge did not let the defense talk about it at trial.
Prosecutors convinced the judge that Chambers’ affairs and actions had nothing to do with the suspects’ crimes, that he had never made any money from Exeintel and that he was not going to anyway be used as a witness.
According to court and public records, Chambers did not dissolve Exeintel LLC until October 29, 2021 — more than a year after the suspects in the Whitmer kidnapping plot were arrested.
Big Dan, meanwhile, spoke, though the defense was limited in what they could present to the jury about the informant.
During the trial, the jury could see texts sent by the FBI agent to Big Dan – but Big Dan’s response texts were ruled inadmissible hearsay.
Among the texts the defense wants the next jury to see are conversations between Big Dan and his handler about the night watch of Whitmer’s house.
FBI Agent: “If Adam is out of town this weekend, we should reschedule the North Trip.”
Great Dan: “Good call.”
Two days later came another text.
FBI Agent: “Try to get as many as possible for Saturday… Also include a drive-by from location 1.”
Great Dan: “Do you want 2 trips or wait until we have more guys.”
The next day, the FBI agent wrote, “Ask him to post pictures.”
Great Dan: “Well received.”
FBI Agent: Adam is it good to tell people about night reconnaissance ahead of time?”
Great Dan: “I will ask.”
According to trial evidence, Fox, Croft, Big Dan and others broke into Whitmer’s house twice. During one trip, Fox took photos of a bridge that prosecutors said the suspects planned to blow up to slow down law enforcement during the kidnapping. Big Dan was with Fox below deck, although the defense says it was Big Dan who drove him there and suggested Fox come out and take the pictures.
On September 19, 2020, Chambers texted Big Dan reminding him of the photos.
FBI Agent: “Hey quick thought. We should bother Adam for the pics from last weekend. Surveillance. Bridge and such.”
Great Dan: “Well received.”
Fox’s photo of the bridge and footage of him looking at a lake through a pair of binoculars were shown to the jury during the trial. But the jury could not unanimously agree on any of the charges against Fox.
Prosecutors argued throughout the trial that Fox and his cronies were armed, ready and willing to carry out a kidnapping of the governor, and that they did more than just talk about it — as the defense claimed. The government argued that the defendants took concrete steps to achieve this, including hiding Whitmer’s house, laying out maps, building and testing explosives and purchasing night vision goggles.
Gibbons argues that Big Dan was pushed by his handling agent with instructions such as: “good to also suggest a group chat on the wire with Adam” and “must get Adam focused” and “do it.” participate in a leadership discussion”.
Gibbons also argues that while Big Dan had no independent authority to act on his own, he once texted his handler about a group event, “I kind of spearhead it. Is that cool?”
“That’s cool, no worries,” the FBI agent replied.
Big Dan’s FBI handler also frequently expressed his approval of Dan with texts such as “great job”, “great job asking relevant questions”, awesome” and “#crushing”.
If convicted, Fox and Croft — a Delaware trucker also named as a ringleader in the case by prosecutors — face life in prison for terrorism and kidnapping.
Contact Tresa Baldas: [email protected]