(Ken Silva, Headline USA) During a hearing this week in the case of four men accused of helping plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the state’s assistant attorney general, William Rolstin, accused one of the alleged plotters of issuing a $1,000 bounty against an FBI informant who betrayed him.
Rolstin was arguing that government records produced in the trial should be kept from the public. He accused Barry Croft—who was convicted of being involved in the plot last August—of leaking case records to his friends in an attempt to expose the identity and inflict harm against an FBI informant.
“Barry Croft is a person the court is more familiar with … There was a contract we discovered. An offer was made for $1,000 for one of our informant’s addresses,” Rolstin said. “And I don’t think they were going to drop off flowers. This is serious business.”
However, Rolstin’s accusation was already debunked in federal court in February 2022, when federal prosecutors were trying to have undercover FBI agents testify under false names. Prosecutors argued at the time that Croft had leaked discovery material to his “extremist associates,” who then “offered a cash bounty for the identity of informants.”
Federal prosecutors pointed to a Facebook post from one of Croft’s associates on Oct. 8, 2020—the day Croft and other defendants were charged.
“Croft [has] been snatched up by feds. $1,000 reward for the name and location of the rat,” the Facebook post said.
But as Croft’s attorney pointed out last month, the Facebook post was from an unknown person long before Croft obtained any discovery, and while he was still being held incommunicado by the FBI in Delaware.
“The government can’t, in good faith, be arguing that after the government seized all of Mr. Croft’s electronics and while he was awaiting his first appearance in the District of Delaware that he somehow was arranging for people on the outside to offer ‘bounties’ and that he was also clairvoyantly disclosing discovery which he wouldn’t receive for months to come,” Croft’s attorney said in a stinging rebuttal on Feb. 25, 2022.
Moreover, the presiding judge in the federal trial sided with Croft in this matter, ruling that the undercover agents had to testify under their real names: special agents Timothy Bates and Mark Schweers.
“It is time for all guise and pretense to end and for the prosecution to present the evidence in an open forum with witnesses testifying using their true identity,” U.S. Judge Robert Jonker ruled last March.
But a year later, state prosecutors made the same accusation, seeking to keep government evidence under wraps. The move to seal court records was a reversal from last month, when Rolstin said he had no objection to making the documents public.
Headline USA wrote to the FBI and Michigan’s attorney general, asking for evidence that Croft was involved in a bounty. Neither party responded to this publication’s email queries.
In any event, the state’s motion to seal records was opposed on Tuesday not only by the defendants, but also by an independent reporter working on a documentary about the case. The reporter, Eric VanDussen, pointed to the contradictions with government’s position that the records should be kept secret.
For instance, Rolsin had claimed that neither the state nor federal prosecutors released any exhibits, as can be seen here:
MI Asst. AG Bill Rollstin: "The Federal Government has released no exhibits. We (the MI AG's office) have released no exhibits." Clip from Antrim Co. Circuit Court hearing on 03-21-23 re: prosecution of Michael Null, William Null, Eric Molitor and Shawn Fix & Brian Higgins. pic.twitter.com/WFbADX1j6G
— Eric L. VanDussen (@Eric_VanDussen) March 23, 2023
VanDussen demolished this claim by showing the judge exactly what records have already been made public.
“This pile [of records] I have right here has already been disclosed during the federal court proceedings, and during preliminary hearings,” he said, waving a stack of documents in his hand.
“When they’re playing audio recordings … I recorded all those with that camera,” he said, gesturing to his camera that was recording the hearing.
“All the audio recordings prosecutors are saying a protective order should encompass—I recorded them with that camera, and they say a protective order should encompass those.”
Judge Charles Hamlyn ruled in favor of VanDussen, declaring that the evidence already made public shall remain so.
“If it has been made public, it is then public,” he said. “The phrase that we always used in a trial … you can’t un-ring the bell. That information is out there.”
The baseless claims uttered at Tuesday hearings were the latest falsities uttered thus far in the state case, where Eric Molitor, Shawn Fix, Michael Null and William Null each face one count of providing material support for an act of terrorism.
Last month, Michigan circuit court judge Kevin Elsenheimer falsely said that Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris were involved in the plot, when those men were acquitted last April. Michigan’s AG has also issued press releases referring to the defendants as being members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia, even though the men currently standing trial were not members of that organization.
Meanwhile, Croft is being held in a supermax prison facility in Terre Haute—blocked from communicating with media or other members of the public. He had been incarcerated in a Michigan county jail, but was moved exactly one day after Headline USA published a message he recorded for the House Weaponization Subcommittee, which was formed to investigate FBI malfeasance.
The Weaponization Subcommittee has yet to comment on what Croft’s supporters view as retaliation for him trying to provide the committee with information about his case.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.