The FBI’s use of confidential human sources is again a centerpiece of a second trial of two men accused of conspiring to kidnap the governor of Michigan.
A jury hung on federal conspiracy charges against Adam Fox and Barry Croft in April while acquitting two other men charged in the conspiracy. Two more men pleaded guilty to the charge before the first trial began in March.
After the government failed to secure a conviction on a single charge in April, federal prosecutors chose to pursue the case against Fox and Croft again. The FBI arrested the two men in October 2020 after a seven-month investigation into a conspiracy to kidnap and potentially assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
While the men made violent statements against Whitmer and concocted plots, sometimes extravagant, against the governor over her COVID regulations and other actions, the defendants’ attorneys have argued that their clients were just venting. The attorneys further argued that the investigation, which involved dozens of FBI agents and informants, amounted to entrapment.
Prosecutors have said that the defendants were part of a dangerous and radical group that took concrete steps to carry out kidnapping and potentially killing the governor. Those steps included several training camps and two trips to survey the governor’s vacation cottage.
Like the first trial, a key part of Fox and Croft’s legal defense is the behavior of the FBI’s confidential human sources. In testimony on Friday, defense attorneys focused on the relationships that two informants, Jenny Plunk and Steve Robeson, had with the defendants. Both informants smoked marijuana, a federal crime, with Croft. At one point, Plunk also shared a hotel room with the defendant, according to Yahoo News.
“Does the FBI have a policy about opposite-gender sources sleeping in the same room?” Croft attorney Joshua Blanchard asked FBI Special Agent Christopher Long. Croft then asked if Long had ever been a part of a case in which an informant was sleeping in the same room as someone under investigation. Long replied that he had not.
Long also faced questions over a text he sent to Plunk during the investigation when a group of militia members wanted to distance themselves from Croft. Long pushed Plunk to keep the group together: “You just have to find common ground … Show them the good ideas Croft brought, and show them what’s workable and not. A compromise may be needed on both sides,” he said according to FOX 17.
Robeson’s conflicts during the investigation ran so deep that he was later accused by the federal government of being a “double agent” for the alleged conspirators.