Architect of plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer to face sentence

Architect of plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer to face sentence

Updated 3 hours, 11 minutes ago

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) – Prosecutors are recommending a life sentence for a co-leader of a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor, reminding a judge that social media posts and secretly recorded conversations revealed a chilling desire to ignite a “reign of terror” in 2020.

Barry Croft Jr. was due in federal court Wednesday, a day after top ally Adam Fox was sentenced to 16 years in prison after prosecutors also recommended a life sentence for his role in a scheme to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and incite their allies to civil war in other countries.

The plotters were angry about the harsh COVID-19 restrictions that Whitmer and officials in other states had put in place during the early months of the pandemic, as well as perceived threats to gun ownership.

Croft, a truck driver in Delaware, regularly wore a three-cornered hat common during the American Revolution and had tattoos on his arms that symbolized resistance — “Wait for us” — as he traveled to Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan to meet with like-minded extremists.

“Although he may not have had hierarchical control over all other participants, he coordinated and pushed the execution of the conspiracy from its inception to its final stages,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said in a filing. judicial.

“The only step left was for the governor to show up at her villa so they could start their plan, but luckily she was still out of their control,” the prosecutor said.

Whitmer was not physically injured. The FBI, which was covertly involved in the group, busted things a month before the 2020 presidential election and arrested 14 people.

Fox, 39, and Croft, 47, were convicted of two counts of conspiracy at a second trial in August. Croft was also found guilty of possessing an unregistered explosive. Another jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan, could not reach a verdict for the couple in the first trial last spring, but acquitted two other men.

“The kidnapping of the governor was meant to be just the beginning of Croft’s reign of terror,” Kessler said. “He called for riots, ‘burning’ government officials in their sleep and causing a ‘domino’ effect of violence across the country. .”

A key piece of evidence: Croft, Fox and others traveled to see Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan, with undercover agents and informants within the cabal.

At one point, Croft told allies, “I don’t like to see anybody killed either. But you don’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, you know what I mean?”

Croft’s lawyer tried to play down his client’s role. In a court filing, Joshua Blanchard said the Bear, Delaware, man had no authority over others and often frustrated them because he “just kept talking.”

Croft smoked 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana a week, Blanchard said.

“Simply put, to the extent that the jury determined that he was a participant, as they necessarily were, he was a participant to a lesser degree than others,” Blanchard insisted.

Two men who pleaded guilty and testified against Fox and Croft received significant breaks: Ty Garbin is now free after serving a 2½-year sentence, while Kaleb Franks was sentenced to four years.

In state court, three men were recently sentenced to lengthy prison terms for assisting Fox earlier in the summer of 2020. Five others are awaiting trial in Antrim County, where Whitmer’s vacation home is located.

When the plot fizzled, Whitmer blamed then-President Donald Trump, saying he had given “comfort to those who spread fear, hatred and division.” In August, 19 months after leaving office, Trump said the kidnapping plan was a “bogus deal.”


Ed White in Detroit contributed to this story. Joey Cappelletti is a staff member for the Associated Press News Initiative/Statehouse Statehouse America Report. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.

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