If Americans thought the current epidemic of politically motivated kidnappings against government officials was going to end anytime soon, they can think again. Last Friday, Justice Department attorneys failed to secure guilty verdicts against any of the four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who the alleged conspirators planned to either put on trial or abandon in a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan. Prosecutors and journalists fear this could send the wrong message to political extremists, signaling that it’s okay to snatch governors and subject them to public show trials or maritime abandonment. Elsewhere, average citizens are wondering when this country is finally going to get serious about halting the rash of abductions of senators, representatives, governors, mayors, cabinet holders and other high profile government officials.
Of the four accused in the alleged plot, two were found not guilty, while the jury deadlocked on the other two, including the alleged ringleader Adam Fox. People may remember that before rising to the status of one of the most feared domestic terrorists in the United States, Adam Fox was but a lowly, broke stoner who lived in the basement of a vacuum cleaner repair shop called the Vac Shack in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With nothing but his trusty bong to keep him company, Fox dreamed of one day becoming the leader of an effort to overthrow the State of Michigan, which would have the domino effect of bringing down the entire United States government. And he might have succeeded too, if not for a chance meeting with a guy by the name of Big Dan.
Despite Adam Fox’s indigent circumstances, Big Dan saw a lot of potential in the young man. Once he peered behind the poverty and pot smoke, Big Dan could tell that Fox was a crazy motherfucker, full of scary dreams and violent boasting, he just lacked proper guidance and direction. So Big Dan set about mentoring Fox, and with the help of his friends at the FBI, Big Dan worked tirelessly to make Adam Fox’s wildest, right-wing fantasies come true. You see, Big Dan was working as a sort of talent facilitator for the FBI, driving a company car and earning in excess of $50,000. As mentor, Big Dan offered Fox a free credit card with a $5000 limit. He secured for Fox a position with the Wolverine Watchmen, a right-wing militia group that Dan once belonged to, and Fox quickly rose through its ranks. Most importantly, though, Big Dan listened to Adam Fox, something few people had ever done. Because Adam Fox talked a lot of shit – a lot of scary, violent shit. But no one ever took him seriously until Big Dan and his FBI handlers.
Adam Fox, Big Dan and members of the Wolverine Watchmen held meet-ups, where Dan’s employer, the federal government, paid for transportation, food and lodging for all the participants. When the group’s own resident bomb maker, Barry Croft aka Tri-Cornered Hat Dude, failed to successfully detonate any of his homemade explosives, Big Dan and the FBI hooked the group up with a bomb guy. It seemed like everything was magically falling into place for this group of incompetent ne’er-do-wells.
Eventually, Big Dan received instructions to take it up a notch. On August 28, 2020, Special Agent Henrik Impola texted Big Dan with “a few goals for today.” Impola’s instructions included inviting the maximum number of participants to surveil the Michigan governor’s vacation home. “I default to getting as many other guys as possible so whatever works to maximize attendance,” Impola wrote. Big Dan pledged to make it happen, and so the plan was in place for FBI informant Big Dan to lead the team on a reconnaissance mission of the Michigan governor’s vacation home and surrounding area.
If you could point to one heroic figure in this whole affair, it would have to be FBI Special Agent Mary Jane. As it turns out, Adam Fox and another alleged conspirator called Barricade smoked marijuana five times during the infamous recon mission to Governor Witmer’s lake cottage. FBI photographs from that day show that the chief conspirator in one of the most daring domestic terrorism plots in United States history was so high that he used his hat to surveil the governor’s cottage from across the lake, rather than a pair of binoculars. Whatever preparation and intelligence gathering Adam Fox and the rest of the alleged conspirators attempted to undertake, it all seemed for naught as it wafted away on plumes of marijuana smoke and gross incompetence.
The nighttime recon mission didn’t fare much better. Here’s how Buzzfeed News tells the story:
“In the government’s telling, the most critical moment in the alleged plot took place late on Sept. 12, 2020, when Fox, Croft, and others piled into three trucks and headed out to conduct nighttime surveillance of Whitmer’s lakeside cottage.
“It was not a great success. For one thing, their companions that night included two confidential informants and two undercover agents. Some 10 additional FBI agents followed them en route, and stationary cameras mounted at strategic spots tracked their progress. For another, despite all the careful planning, the men failed to find Whitmer’s house because they had been given the wrong address, and heavy rains made it impossible for them to spot one another from across the lake as they had hoped to do.”
If not for his righteously impaired judgment, a stone free Adam Fox might have been able to ascertain he was being set up. “Whoa, that is some killer ganj, dude, because I’m seeing all kinds of super paranoid, fucked up shit. Suspicious vehicles, surveillance cameras, strange looking men lurking in the shadows. Holy shit!” You have to wonder if the FBI’s plan was to ensnare the would be terrorists during that recon mission, but the agency was unable to do so because the group lacked the sophistication to locate their target. Apparently, the group also lacked the sophistication to nail down a date for when they’d all be available to launch their expertly crafted plan.
Nevertheless, the feds dramatic takedown came days later when Big Dan, Fox and others traveled to Ypsilanti to meet with the FBI’s approved bomb maker, Red. With only $300 between them, the conspirators lacked the funds to obtain the $4000 device they sought, but they did have plenty of cash to go out for beer and hot wings after the meeting. That bit of frivolity would have to wait, however, as the conspirators were arrested without incident and have been held in jail ever since. That is until last Friday when Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted and set free.
The public can rest easy, though, two of the group’s leaders are still behind bars. Federal prosecutors have vowed to retry Fox and Croft. Perhaps, prosecutors could have brought this case in for a successful landing if they hadn’t left some of their all-star agents sitting on the bench. One of Big Dan’s handlers, Special Agent Jayson Chambers, didn’t testify because he had incorporated a private security firm and bragged about his credentials on the domestic terrorism front prior to the take down of the Apple Dumpling Gang. Another of Big Dan’s handlers, Special Agent Henrik Impola, was not called upon to testify because he had been accused of perjury in a prior case. Former FBI Special Agent Richard Trask, who also worked on the case, sat this one out because he faced charges stemming from an incident where he bounced his wife’s head off a nightstand when she failed to comply with his plan to join a Kalamazoo swingers party.
As for Adam Fox, he probably wishes he’d kept his mouth shut and taken his dreams in another direction, like pursuing that business idea of crafting custom hookahs and bongs out of old vacuum cleaner parts.