Jury acquits Michigan defendants entrapped by FBI

By Vivian Sahner
October 2, 2023

In an important victory for constitutional rights, a jury in Bellaire, Michigan, acquitted three men Sept. 15 who had been accused of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. It was the final court proceeding in a three-year frame-up and entrapment effort by the FBI and federal prosecutors that left nine men in prison and two others acquitted. 

Michael and William Null, twin brothers, and Eric Molitor were found not guilty of all charges. 

The government’s charges centered around a 2020 trip by a dozen men, a third of them government informants or undercover FBI agents, who carried out surveillance of the landscape around Whitmer’s vacation cottage. No one was harmed, no property was damaged, no future attack organized. Prosecutors claimed the plot was a conspiracy organized by right-wing militia members and others opposed to restrictive COVID-19 mandates. 

All of the prosecutions were based on the testimony of undercover FBI agents and informers, who had pushed for the loose group to take action. “Anything that has to do with three-letter government, I’m suspicious,” one prospective juror told the judge, referring to the FBI and other government spy outfits. “I’ve had friends and family devastated by those agencies.” 

FBI Special Agent Henrik Impola testified for hours during the trial, detailing how the agency infiltrated various meetings and activities that sometimes involved the defendants. 

“Undercover Dan,” a paid informant who spent months operating inside the group, was the second operative to testify on behalf of the state. “Dan glued it all together,” Molitor, who took the stand in his defense, testified. He was the one “actually bringing people together and setting things up.” Dan was the ringleader, he told the jury. 

The FBI claims it spends an average of $42 million annually for so-called Confidential Human Sources. They had so many at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, they had to do an audit later to figure out how many, Steven D’Antuono, formerly in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told a House Judiciary Committee.  

The use of informants — and fabricated evidence and misrepresented information from them — has come up at the trials of hundreds of those accused of actions on Jan. 6.  

“It’s all politics,” defense attorney William Barnett told the jury in his opening statement, pointing to the lack of evidence of any actual crime. “There’s something going on here. I don’t know what’s going on. But it looks like weaponization of the government.” 

After the trial Barnett told the press, “They went after three people’s lives and destroyed them for three years. I’m just lost for words.”