Terrorist in plot to kidnap Michigan Governor sentenced to 16 years

Adam Fox and Barry Croft were convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

A Michigan man was sentenced today to 16 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property.

Adam Fox, 39, of Wyoming, Michigan, and co-conspirator Barry Croft Jr., 47, of Bear, Delaware, were convicted by a federal jury in August 2022 during an 11-day retrial.

Fox and Croft faced the retrial months after a jury deadlocked on the case in April when two of their co-defendants were exonerated, two others were convicted, and two more entered guilty pleas.

A prosecutor told jurors that Fox and Croft wanted to ignite a “second American revolution” over their displeasure with restrictions meant to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Fox and Croft intended to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation cottage near Elk Rapids, Michigan, and use destructive devices to facilitate their plot by harming and hindering the governor’s security detail and any responding law enforcement officers.

They specifically explored placing a bomb under an interstate overpass near a pedestrian boardwalk. Croft was also convicted of possessing an improvised explosive device, which was a commercial firework refashioned with shrapnel to serve as a hand grenade.

Wolverine Watchmen Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico

Three men members of a militia group, known as the Wolverine Watchmen, who were convicted in state court received long prison sentences on December 15, 2022.

Joseph Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar were found guilty in October of providing material support for a terrorist act, the most serious charge, as well as firearms charges and membership in a gang. Musico was sentenced to 12 years, Morrison to 10 years, and Bellar to seven.

“Mr. Fox, and his confederate Mr. Croft, were convicted by a jury of masterminding a plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and to use weapons of mass destruction against responding law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Today’s sentence reflects the Department of Justice’s unwavering commitment to protecting our elected officials, law enforcement officers, and dedicated public servants from criminal threats and violence — and to holding the perpetrators of such acts fully accountable under the law.”

“Today, Mr. Fox learned his fate. For his role in the plot to kidnap the Governor and trigger further violence, he will serve a long term in prison,” said Former U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge for the Western District of Michigan, appointed to oversee the trial. “Responding to domestic terrorism has been a priority for the Department of Justice since its founding. Rest assured: we will spare no effort to disrupt plots like these and hold those responsible accountable to the law.”

Fox is the third to be sentenced of four defendants charged as federal conspirators convicted in the plot. Croft is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow.

Co-defendant Ty Garbin, 27, of Hartland, Michigan, pleaded guilty in January 2021 and initially received a sentence of 75 months, or over six years, in prison. The district court later reduced to a term of 30 months, or two and a half years in prison, after fully considering his cooperation at both trials. Kaleb Franks, 28, of Waterford, Michigan, received a term of four years in prison after pleading guilty and testifying at both trials. Co-defendants Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted at the first trial in April 2022.

The verdicts “are further proof that violence and threats have no place in our politics,” said Whitmer, who has not participated as a trial witness or spectator in the state or federal cases. “Those who seek to sow discord by pursuing violent plots will be held accountable under the law.”

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