DETROIT — An undercover FBI agent who went by the name “Red” testified at Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s kidnapping trial on Monday, telling jurors his role was to make sure suspects didn’t come out alone and n wouldn’t get explosives.
“Red” is the undercover agent who tricked defendants into claiming he had access to bomb-making equipment, telling the jury that accused ringleader Adam Fox had placed him with a $4,000 order for explosives and asked him for an IOU because he didn’t have the money yet.
The trial of four men accused of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer began weeks ago and has included testimony from undercover FBI agents who spied on the suspects and recorded their conversations about how which they would use explosives to carry out their plan.
One of 14 men charged with conspiring to kidnap the governor, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty to kidnapping conspiracy in US District Court in January, admitting he was part of a group that sought to kidnap Whitmer from his vacation home. The men were motivated in large part by anger over his lockdown orders during the pandemic.
According to ‘Red’, the explosives would be used to blow up a bridge near Whitmer’s vacation home to slow down law enforcement after the kidnapping. “Red” said he was with the group when they discussed this plan, and when Fox stopped along a highway one night to inspect a bridge to see if there were any suitable spots for place explosives.
“We had to look at the bridge to examine it to see what kind of explosives would be appropriate,” Red testified. “He said he wanted to remove the bridge to slow down the police response to the abduction.”
Red also told the jury that defendant Barry Croft referred to blowing up telephone poles and power lines as another way to slow down law enforcement.
According to the agent, Croft mistakenly thought the group was going to kidnap Whitmer the night of the bridge watch. When asked by the prosecutor to explain why he thought that, the officer said:
“He said he needed to take a nap to make sure he had the energy to do it,” the agent said, referring to Croft.
‘Red’ reveals his identity
“Red” is actually FBI Special Agent Timothy Bates, who told the jury how he infiltrated the Wolverine Watchmen militia to prevent its members from procuring explosives on their own.
“They needed someone to step in and control the timeline,” said Bates, whose bald, skinny appearance at the helm was different from the bearded, plaid-clad bomb expert he claimed to be when he was integrated into the militia.
According to Bates, he was introduced to the group through an undercover FBI informant known as “Big Dan”, whom he connected with in the summer of 2020. “Big Dan” and “Red pretended to be friends, and the two attended many drills. and meetings together, including a training exercise in mid-September.
This was when the group prepared for their surveillance of Whitmer’s home, he testified. Bates claimed to have access to explosives through an acquaintance who worked in the mining industry, he testified, and provided the group with video of an SUV being detonated.
It really was an FBI video, Bates told the jury, saying Fox was thrilled to see the video.
“Do they come as a variety pack?” Fox asked Bates in an audio recording, which was played for the jury.
Fox is also heard asking how much the explosives cost and telling “Red” that he wanted 20 flash grenades.
Additional recordings were released of Croft talking about making his own explosives from spark plugs and propane tanks. Croft said he wanted to have extra explosives in case other potential targets were identified to create fear.
“I’m stupid bro, I’ll burn down people’s houses while they’re inside,” Croft was heard saying.
According to the agent, Croft also talked about spraying Whitmer’s vacation home with napalm, although that never happened.
Learn more about the case:Whitmer kidnapping suspects don’t want jury to hear video comments
Bates was part of the three-car road trip on September 12, 2020 – the night the defendants surveilled the governor’s vacation home. Bates said Fox instructed the group to “dress casual,” swapping the practice uniforms they wore during the day for more casual attire, such as jeans and a t-shirt, to avoid getting angry. to arouse suspicions.
According to Bates, a car was at a boat launch on the lake from Whitmer’s cottage. He was in that car with Croft and Fox, who had a night vision device to spot the house. On the other side of the lake, a car turned on its high beams as it passed the house. Fox told the group that the house had been identified and should not be passed.
After surveying Whitmer’s house, Bates said his crew went looking for a place with access to Lake Michigan. He said the group’s plan was to kidnap the Governor from her home, drive her to Lake Michigan, put her in a boat, and take her to the middle of the lake.
The group did not discuss the monitoring trip until the following day, Bates said.
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Agent: order placed for explosives
The day after the surveillance, the group met and Fox told the group the explosives would cost $4,000, Bates said.
More training followed, including a meeting with Fox asking everyone if they were committed to the plan, telling them the prize would be $4,000 and everyone had to participate.
“Did Mr. Fox order any explosives from you?” the prosecutor asked Bates.
“Yes,” Bates replied, adding that Fox also wanted to order 20 flash bang grenades – which make a loud noise and produce a flash of light.
“If we’re all okay with that, we’re going to move on,” Fox told the group in a recording played for the jury.
According to Bates, the group agreed to meet again in late October with the explosives, although their plan never materialized.
On October 7, 2020, four of the suspects were arrested in a sting outside a warehouse, where the men allegedly thought they were going to make a deposit on explosives and collect other equipment.
During cross-examination, defense attorneys questioned Bates about his testimony that the group wanted to make a deposit for explosives.
“Nobody actually gave you any money,” defense attorney Joshua Blanchard asked Bates.
“Correct,” replied the agent.
“In fact, nobody ever shook your hand and said, ‘We have a deal,'” the defense attorney said.
“Correct,” replied the agent.
The jury also saw objects that an FBI agent said were likely used to create an improvised explosive, including a post-blast area, with objects spread out within a 2-3 foot radius around the detonation area. . Evidence included a mortar launcher, rubber bands, as well as coins and staples likely intended for use as shrapnel, the officer said.
“We observed that something had exploded,” the officer said.
During brief cross-examination, defense attorney Julia Kelly repeated that the radius of the blast was only 2 to 3 feet.