‘Big Dan’ testimony reveals FBI tactics in kidnapping case | WJMN
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — FBI informant “Big Dan” faced a potentially dangerous problem as he helped investigate the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Dan Chappel, known as Big Dan during his undercover work, feared that his cover as an informant, which involved him mingling with members of the armed militia, had been destroyed.
So he turned to his FBI handlers for a solution.
Their suggestion: Tell the Wolverine Watchmen militia that one of its newest members, a man named Trent, was a Federal, Chappel testified.
Some members of the group already suspected that he was working undercover; some called him “fed boy”, Chappel testified.
“Trent is a real person, isn’t he?” Daniel Harris’ attorney, Julia Kelly, asked Chappel.
“He is,” Chappel replied.
“So blame an innocent person they might already think is a feds?” Brandon Caserta’s attorney, Michael Hill, later asked him.
Turns out Chappel’s cover hadn’t been blown.
He continued to work for federal authorities until they arrested the suspects in October 2020, and is now a star witness for federal prosecutors in the case against four men: Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris.
Chappel, an army veteran, said he started working as an informant in March 2020 after joining the Wolverine Watchmen and became concerned about their conversation about murdering police officers.
In cross-examination, he testified that the FBI paid him $54,000 for his seven months on the job, roughly the same amount he earned in his real job as a truck driver. This included reimbursement for the purchase of a laptop, a warranty for the laptop and a Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, he said.
He said he missed 15 weeks of work posing as a Wolverine Watchmen.
Less than a week after becoming an informant and agreeing to wear a secret recording device for the FBI, the Wolverine Watchmen made him second in command.
He testified that the conversation eventually turned to the governor’s kidnapping, upset over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, his third day on the witness stand, defense attorneys worked to expose inconsistencies in the government’s case.
Chappel testified that he was ordered by the FBI not to suggest ideas or help develop attack plans.
But he testified on Tuesday that his FBI handlers told him to suggest they go after a “softer target” – by destroying the governor’s boat.
An FBI agent testified earlier that the plan to kidnap the governor from her cabin involved three boats, including one on her lake and two waiting on Lake Michigan.
It also involved stealing the governor’s car and then stranding it in a boat in the middle of the big lake.
But Chappel described a different plan:
They would use an ATV to whisk the Governor out of her cabin after killing her security detail and deploy a boat waiting for her on Lake Michigan.
He said it would take three teams, all wearing body armor – one for the assault on the chalet, one to extract the governor and the third in the waiting boat.
They would take him in the boat to Wisconsin, hold kangaroo court and execute him, he said.
“I think there was a two-boat system, a three-boat system, a two-helicopter system, maybe a three-helicopter system,” Croft’s attorney Joshua Blanchard said outside the courthouse. of righteousness.
Lawyers also worked to steer their clients away from the conspiracy on Tuesday.
Hills, Caserta’s attorney, questioned Big Dan to show Caserta’s lack of involvement in key elements of the alleged plot: that he was not in charge of training, that he did not create any route, that he did not contribute money to a pool supposedly to buy a bomb, that he was not on either of the two reconnaissance missions to the governor’s cabin in Elk Rapids.
The informant testified earlier that he was afraid of Caserta, that he always turned his back to the door when he was with him. Caserta had spoken of his desire to hunt down COVID-19 contact tracers and kill them, that it was not enough to go after the governor and that he wanted to drink blood from the skulls of Zionist bankers, testified the informant.
But despite this, Caserta’s lawyer pointed out, the informant spent hours with Caserta, even helping him fix his broken down car without incident.