Ringleader of plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sentenced to 19 1/2 years in prison

47-year-old Barry Croft Jr., who was convicted of playing a key role in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, was sentenced to 19 1/2 years in prison Wednesday. Croft and co-defendant Adam Fox, 39, were convicted in August of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and to use a weapon of mass destruction to attack Whitmer, who drew the hatred of far-right groups for her efforts to curb the spread of Covid in 2020. Fox was sentenced to 192 months (16 years) in prison by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, and Croft was sentenced to 235 months in a Grand Rapids.

Jonker stopped short of issuing a life sentence sought by prosecutors, but the judge largely agreed with the government’s stance that Croft fueled the plot with dangerous rhetoric. Jonker said: “I do think of Mr. Croft as the more seriously culpable … more so than even Mr. Fox … I think he was the person who gave Mr. Fox something to grab on to,” calling Croft the “idea guy” who egged on co-conspirators with “wrong” and “twisted” ideology.

A jury in April failed to arrive at verdicts against Fox and Croft, forcing a judge to declare a mistrial before a second trial proved decisive. Gov. Whitmer, who won re-election last month, was the focal point of far-right rage in 2020 when she imposed various lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of Covid. A representative for Whitmer on Wednesday said the governor had no comment beyond a statement she made when the Croft and Fox were convicted, insisting that 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.”

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