By Julie Kelly
Brandon Caserta had just ordered take-out—a bacon double cheeseburger with jalapeno and avocado that the restaurant named the “Spicy Brando” in his honor—when a coworker said the plant manager needed to see him. Instead of leaving to take his lunch break as planned, Caserta, who at the time worked as a machinist in a Michigan factory that manufactures parts for Ford trucks, walked to his boss’ office to see what was up.
When Caserta entered the office on October 7, 2020, at least 15 masked FBI agents and local law enforcement officers immediately tackled him to the ground. “Stop resisting, you’re under arrest!” they shouted, according to Caserta, who spoke with American Greatness by phone for four hours this week to discuss his nearly two-year ordeal at the hands of the U.S. government.
Caserta was taken from Plymouth to Ypsilanti that evening and interrogated. Hours later, FBI agents finally revealed why he was under arrest: for conspiring to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan.
“It was surreal. I was like, ‘are you serious right now?’ Then they said, ‘The other guys say you know all about it.’”
The “other guys” were acquaintances that Caserta had met for the first time earlier that summer. They, too, had been arrested on the same federal charge in what the Justice Department considered a potential act of domestic terrorism.
Caserta’s name, along with the names of five other defendants—Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Barry Croft, Jr., and Daniel Harris—went viral. Their mug shots were plastered across the front pages and cable news channels while reporters described the men as “white supremacists” and members of “right-wing militias” loyal to President Donald Trump.
Whitmer gave an emotional public statement the next day to blame Trump, her political nemesis, for inciting the alleged plot. Joe Biden did the same on the campaign stump in the waning weeks of the 2020 election as millions of Americans were voting for president. “There is a through line from President Trump’s dog whistles and tolerance of hate, vengeance, and lawlessness to plots such as this one,” Biden said in a statement on October 8, 2020.
That same day, Caserta and his co-defendants began an 18-month stint in county jail awaiting trial as federal prosecutors built their case while attempting to conceal the government’s deep involvement in the plot.
Turns out, Caserta and his alleged co-conspirators were not criminals planning to snatch Whitmer from her summer house and dump her in the middle of Lake Michigan but human pawns in yet another stunt by the Federal Bureau of Investigation designed to interfere in a national election and sabotage Donald Trump. And the elaborate, costly scheme had been months in the making. more