More than two years after the 2020 plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the last two federal defendants were sentenced for their involvement in the plot. Michigan resident Adam Fox was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison Tuesday, while Delaware resident Barry Croft Jr. was given the longest sentence out of any of the conspirators Wednesday morning — 19 years in federal prison.
In August, Fox and Croft were convicted for their involvement in what the government has described as “one of the biggest domestic terrorism cases” in the U.S. when a jury found the two men guilty. Both were charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer and conspiring to obtain a weapon of mass destruction to blow up a bridge near Whitmer’s vacation home.
At the trial in August, federal prosecutors said Fox was the leader of the plot to kidnap Whitmer from her summer home, and called for a life sentence. Federal prosecutor Nils Kessler also requested a life sentence for Croft, referring to him as the “spiritual leader of the group”.
Prior to issuing Fox’s prison sentence Tuesday, Judge Robert Jonker made a statement to the court in Grand Rapids, Mich. Jonker said though he would not be issuing a life sentence, it is important for the public to know the consequences that come with domestic terrorism.
“And there is impact on our overall governmental system, not just physical threat to our sitting governor,” Jonker said. “It’s the emotional baggage that now our governor will have to carry.”
In a press release on the day Fox and Croft were convicted in August, Whitmer — who was reelected to serve a second term as governor in the November midterm elections — condemned political violence but said it would not interfere with her goals for the state.
“Plots against public officials and threats to the FBI are a disturbing extension of radicalized domestic terrorism that festers in our nation, threatening the very foundation of our republic,” Whitmer wrote. “I ran for office because I love my fellow Michiganders and my home state with all my heart. I always will. I cannot—I will not—let extremists get in the way of the work we do.”
The initial federal criminal complaint against Fox, Croft and four other Michigan residents was filed in October 2020. Two of the other co-conspirators, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, pleaded guilty to kidnapping conspiracy in 2021 and testified against Croft and Fox in subsequent trials, receiving two and a half and four years in federal prison, respectively. Three other men were convicted and sentenced in Michigan state courts in Jackson County, Mich., for providing support of terrorist acts. Five more men are awaiting trial at the state level.