State Watch

Man accused of co-leading Michigan governor kidnapping scheme sentenced to 19 years in prison

FILE – This undated booking photo provided by the Delaware Department of Justice shows Barry Croft Jr. Prosecutors are recommending a life prison sentence for the co-leader of the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan’s governor. They have reminded a judge that social media posts and secretly recorded conversations revealed a chilling desire by Croft Jr. to spark a “reign of terror” in 2020. Croft Jr. is due in federal court Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, a day after key ally Adam Fox was sentenced to 16 years in prison after prosecutors also recommended a life sentence for him. (Delaware Department of Justice via AP, File)

A Delaware man accused of co-leading a failed plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was sentenced to 19 years in prison on Wednesday.

Michigan Judge Robert Jonker described Barry Croft Jr., 47, as the “idea guy” behind the kidnapping scheme.

The sentence for Croft comes a day after the plot’s co-leader Adam Fox was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Both men were convicted in August on conspiracy charges, with prosecutors saying they led six other men associated with a militia group called Wolverine Watchmen to kidnap Whitmer before the 2020 election.

The men were irate about COVID-19 restrictions in the state enacted by Whitmer to control the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Croft was also convicted on a charge of possessing an unregistered explosive and Fox on a charge of seeking to obtain and use a weapon of mass destruction to blow up a bridge and distract authorities.

Croft, who prosecutors said was a “spiritual leader” of the group, was accused of plotting to torch government officials and cause a “reign of terror” across the state.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said in court that Croft was playing the “role of a prophet” in the group.

“This man is fully radicalized. He hasn’t changed his viewpoint,” Kessler said. “He’s not admitting the ideas are wrong because he still holds them. This whole thing was Mr. Croft’s idea.”

Earlier this year, three other defendants were convicted in the plot while two men pleaded guilty. Last year, two defendants were acquitted in a trial.

According to evidence presented during the trial at the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Croft, Fox and others traveled to Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan in preparation for the plot but were not aware that undercover agents were also present.

On the trip, Croft allegedly said, “I don’t like seeing anybody get killed either. But you don’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, you know what I mean?”

Federal authorities became aware of the plot after a militia member contacted the FBI about growing threats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated at 2:46 p.m.

Tags Grand Rapids Gretchen Whitmer Michigan Whitmer

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