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Federal judge: Surveillance of governor's vacation home shows kidnapping plot was serious

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

The case against five of the men charged in federal court over an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer will go to a grand jury for charges.

The men faced a preliminary hearing Friday in Grand Rapids to determine if there’s enough evidence to move forward with the case. The magistrate judge in the case says there is.

She disagreed with defense attorneys who tried to argue that the plot amounted to just “loose talk.” And said when the men actually went on a surveillance mission to the governor’s vacation home up north, it showed they took the idea of kidnapping the governor seriously.

Defense attorneys for a few of the men said they shouldn’t face trial because they didn’t do as much to forward the plot. But a federal prosecutor argued “less involved is not that same as not involved.”

Bond hearings were also held for two of the defendants. Adam Fox and Ty Garbin will be held without bond.

A sixth man from Delaware is also facing federal charges in the plot. His case is being transferred to Michigan. An additional eight men are facing charges at the state level.

An earlier version of this story said the five defendants will go to trial. It has been corrected to reflect that the next step is a federal grand jury for charges.

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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