An FBI agent who has played a key role in the prosecution of more than a dozen 'militia' members who plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen W
An FBI agent who has played a key role in the prosecution of more than a dozen ‘militia’ members who plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been fired from the agency, two months after he was arrested for allegedly beating his wife.
Richard Trask, 39, was involved in the prosecution of a group of far-right ‘militia’ members, claiming in court documents that they plotted to kidnap the Michigan governor and dump her in a lake over her strict COVID mandates.
But in July, Trask’s reputation started to take a nosedive when he was arrested for assault with intent to do great bodily harm after he allegedly beat his wife in their home following a disagreement at a swingers party.
Trask, who was also moonlighting as a personal trainer, has since pleaded not guilty to the assault.
It is unclear whether his superiors at the FBI were aware he had another job.
Then just last week, prosecutors decided to omit his testimony in the case against one alleged militia member after his social media posts came to light, revealing he once referred to former President Donald Trump as a ‘douchebag f****** reality tv star.’
By Saturday, federal officials confirmed to The Detroit News he is no longer employed by the bureau.
They would not confirm what the basis of Trask’s firing was.
Richard Trask, 39, was fired from his position in the FBI, the Detroit News confirmed. He has worked on cases involving espionage, terrorism and domestic extremism investigations
Trask also owns a gym at his rural Michigan property. It is unclear whether his superiors in the FBI knew of his other job
He was a key figure in efforts to make a case against 14 men who plotted to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer (pictured) in October
Trask was arrested in July after he had attended a swinger’s party in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his wife. They argued about it and on their return home had a physical fight, leaving her bloodied and bruised
Trask was arrested on July 18 for allegedly beating his wife, after they attended a swinger’s party in Kalamazoo, where they lived.
Trask’s wife said that they had several drinks at the party, held at a hotel in Oshtemo Township.
She did not like the party and they argued about it on the way home
The argument allegedly turned physical when Trask climbed on top of her in bed and repeatedly smashed his wife’s head against a nightstand, leaving her bloody.
She attempted to grab his beard to free herself, and he began to choke her around the neck and throat, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Detroit News.
She ultimately grabbed Trask’s testicles, which ended the altercation, the document notes, and Trask left their Oshtemo Township home in her vehicle.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said Trask’s wife had cuts to the right side of her head and ‘blood all over chest, clothing arms and hand,’ as well as ‘severe’ bruising to her neck and throat.
Trask, a gym owner who has worked for the FBI since 2011, was tracked down in the parking lot of a supermarket on Main Street in Oshtemo Township, near Kalamazoo.
He is charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, less than murder. Trask was released on a $10,000 bail and is prohibited from carrying a firearm.
Trask has worked on cases involving espionage, terrorism and domestic extremism investigations.
Hundreds of people descended on Michigan’s Capitol building on April 30 to protest against Whitmer extending a statewide stay-at-home order. Pictured are Joe Morrison (far right), Paul Bellar (second right) and Pete Musico (red checked shirt) – the co founders of Wolverine Watchmen
A confederate flag hangs on the property in Munith, Michigan, where the group trained
The militia training ground in rural Michigan where at least some of the men charged with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer practiced shooting and blew up homemade explosives
The site is mostly barren aside from a small trailer. It’s unclear if anyone lives in it or if was just used by the training camp
Among shooting targets were metal signs that were riddled with bullet holes
Last year, he made headlines for leading the case against a group of militia members, known as the Wolverine Watchmen, who had planned to kidnap Governor Whitmer.
He and other prosecutors claimed in their affidavits that, through a militia group member who became an informant, federal agents became aware that the men were plotting the ‘violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components’ and taking ‘violent action’ against state governments that they believed were violating the United States Constitution.
Among these plans, was one to kidnap Whitmer in retaliation for her ‘uncontrolled power’ amid the pandemic.
The group allegedly met for several months to plan out how they would kidnap the governor, including using a boat to flee with her and leaving her in the middle of Lake Michigan, and engaged in tactical training, learning how to make bombs.
By last September, Trask wrote, the plan began to unravel after the FBI informant introduced an undercover agent to the group, posing as an explosives expert.
Trask testified in federal court that ‘several members talked about murdering “tyrants” or “taking” a sitting governor.’
‘The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread the message.’
Fourteen men with far-right ties have since been arrested in the plot.
Five of the men face a range of charges including kidnapping and weapons of mass destruction conspiracies. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Another eight people have been charged in state court with crimes related to the kidnapping plot and threats to overthrow the government.
One of the accused, Ty Garbin, 26, has since pleaded guilty to the kidnapping conspiracy. He was recently sentenced to 75 months in prison.
Fourteen men with far-right ties have since been arrested in the plot to kidnap Whitmer, including Michael Null, William Null, Eric Molitor, Shawn Fix, Ty Garbin, Brandon Caserta, Kaleb Franks, Adam Fox, and Daniel Harris
Trask’s firing comes one week after prosecutors decided not to use his testimony in one conspirator’s trial after several of his social media posts emerged, revealing that he called former President Donald Trump a ‘douchebag f****** reality tv star.’
In one March 28, 2020 post, he wrote: ‘As someone whose wife works in the hospital, I hope you burn in hell along with your douchebag f****** reality tv star. His ego is going to kill a lot of people and anyone who supports him is a dumbass.
‘That is what you get when you elect an egotistical/narcissistic maniac to the top office. He needs people to be nice to him or he won’t help.
‘F*** you douche.’
Meanwhile, other federal agents involved in the case are being scrutinized for alleged wrongdoing, including FBI Special Agent Jayson Chambers, who owns a cyber intelligence company, Exeintel, which tweeted about the investigation months before it was publicly reported.
It wrote on October 7: ‘Don’t worry Michigan, I told ya, a lot more coming soon.’
Just a few hours later, Buzzfeed reported, the members of the militia group were arrested.
Then the next day, as the news of the arrests began to spread, it tweeted again: ‘I told ya ahead of time, Michigan.’
Chambers and the FBI declined to comment on the matter to Buzzfeed, which first reported on the tweets on August 26, but five defendants who have accused the government of entrapment asked a federal judge last week to subpoena Twitter over the account.
The attorneys said the Twitter data would help determine if ‘a government agent is in control of a Twitter account which was tweeting confidential details about the investigation’ and whether ‘the agent had a financial interest in the outcome of the investigation.’
The filing also argued the development was further evidence that the defendants should be entitled to records from Chambers’ cellular phone and those from another FBI agent, as well as a key confidential informant.
Michael Hills – who represents defendant Brandon Caserta, has also alleged that an FBI agent instructed an informant to lie and delete text messages that would reveal that the agency furthered the kidnapping conspiracy, and asked the court to order prosecutors to produce communications between agents and informants.
And in May, state prosecutor Greg Townsend was reassigned from the case after the Michigan Attorney General’s Office discovered potential ethics concerns in a murder and arson case he prosecuted in 2000.
A spokesperson for the state attorney general told the Detroit Free Press Townsend was ‘reassigned from his docket with the Department of the Attorney General performs a comprehensive audit of his work.’
Five defendants in the kidnapping case appeared in federal court in Grand Rapids last year. Their attorneys are now seeking to delay the trial, claiming they need time to sort through the evidence the prosecution has provided
A trial in the case against the five militia-men is set to begin on October 12, but their lawyers have asked for a 90-day delay to further investigate the FBI agents involved in the case.
They claim they need time to probe the government’s use of at least a dozen confidential informants and undercover investigators, and have noted that trial preparation has been marred by voluminous evidence – including two terabytes of information provided by the government in late August.
‘The timing and organization of the discovery productions have created significant problems for the defense in preparing for the current trial date,’ they wrote in a court filing obtained by the Detroit News last Wednesday.
Among the evidence, they said, is more than 1,000 hours of surveillance and audio recordings – much of which is duplicative, and some of which are missing information.
The defense lawyers hired a court reporter to transcribe about 25 hours of the recordings but it is a slow process.
‘It is not likely that the scope of the work, as currently defined can be completed prior to the final pretrial conference on September 23,’ they claimed.
And adding to the defense’s apparent headache – their military tactics expert quit on August 30, citing pretrial publicity.
‘The defense attorneys as a group have been trying to replace this expert, but as of this writing, only have leads, but no commitments.’
The prosecution must respond to the request by Wednesday, and US District Judge Robert Jonker will consider the request on September 17.