by Scott McClallen
A key FBI informant for the alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wouldn’t see prison time under a plea deal despite pleading guilty to a 10-year gun crime during the plot.
The plea agreement for Wisconsin resident Stephen Robeson says that on Sept. 26, 2020, Robeson bought an Armalite .50 caliber rifle from a man he met at church. Months later, Robeson sold the gun to someone he met on Facebook Messenger. A federal judge must approve the plea deal.
The plea deal says Robeson knew he couldn’t legally obtain that gun because of his 2005 felony conviction for insurance fraud in Wisconsin.
The Detroit News first reported the story.
It’s unclear why the FBI used a convicted felon with a long rap sheet as an informant in the most high-profile case of alleged domestic extremism in decades. The contentious pick of Robeson leads to questions of whether any of the at least 11 other informants have rap sheets or committed new crimes during the kidnapping plot and whether they will be charged alongside the accused extremists.
The Whitmer kidnapping plot and subsequent investigation has been plagued by missteps by government agent. One of the lead FBI agents credited with foiling the plot was fired after his arrest for allegedly smashing his wife’s head into a nightstand and choking her after a swingers’ sex party.
The use of a convicted felon who committed another crime during the plot is another blow to the credibility of the Whitmer kidnapping plot informants, some of whom allegedly hatched the plan and rose to the group’s second-in-command.
Defense lawyers claim federal agents entrapped the alleged extremists. One defense attorney alleges an FBI agent told a paid confidential information to lie, delete messages between them, and implicate an innocent third party.
It’s unclear why the government agreed not to send Robeson, a convicted felon, to prison since he committed another crime as an FBI informant. The News reported Robeson’s lawyer argued the FBI had authorized Robeson had “to otherwise engage in illegal conduct.”
The News reported his rap sheet includes convictions for having sex with a child age 16 or older, sexual assault, and bail jumping.
The plea deal continues to blur the line between who was a confidential informant or an extremist and which group fueled the conspiracy. It’s unclear what differentiated Robeson, who committed a 10-year crime but might walk away with only probation, from the rest of the alleged extremists who face years in prison.
Ty Garbin, 25, has been the only alleged extremist to plead guilty to the plot and was sentenced to six years and three months in prison.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Steve Robeson” by NBC15 WMTV.