Second Whitmer Kidnap Plotter Gets 19.5 Years In Prison

Barry Croft, the second of two men convicted for spearheading the plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, was sentenced today to serve close to 20 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker of the Western District of Michigan.

Barry Croft

Mr. Jonker at a hearing today in Grand Rapids said that the life sentence recommended by federal prosecutors was too heavy and that a sentence less than life was appropriate in the case – as he did with co-conspirator Adam Fox, who received a sentence of 16 years yesterday in a separate hearing before Mr. Jonker.

Federal prosecutors had asserted, as they did in the case of Mr. Fox, that the court should send a clear message of just how serious a sentence was warranted for Mr. Croft, who came close to executing an operation to kidnap the governor from her Elk Rapids vacation home in the fall of 2020.

Prosecutors said Mr. Croft was the true heart and soul of the plot and that the defendant acted as a sort of spiritual leader to the group. Further, prosecutors argued that Mr. Croft’s musings gave the group political and near religious justifications to engage in the plot and – ultimately – plan a violent action against state and federal government officials and law enforcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler also added that the evidence introduced at trial in USA v. Croft established that Mr. Fox was motivated by a desire to retaliate against the government for various actions, but was ultimately egged on further by Mr. Croft’s own views. That led to the recruitment of several individuals that broke off from the Wolverine Watchmen militia group, transforming themselves into would-be domestic terrorists while concocting the plot.

Mr. Croft’s attorneys had argued for a lighter sentence because a life sentence does not account for the defendant’s alleged substance abuse issues and how they may have exacerbated his dark views toward government. Now that he’s had time to clear his head, his attorneys said, Mr. Croft was starting to see some of the error of his ways.

Mr. Jonker at the hearing today, however, noted that while the charges and eventual conviction were serious, a long sentence was sufficient and a life sentence was not necessary to convey the consequences of Mr. Croft’s crimes.

That said, Mr. Jonker said Mr. Croft was the more dangerous of the two as he was deeply anti-government and was actively looking to “pull the string” on social threads in order to bring like-minded people into his orbit to further the violent overthrow of the government, which Mr. Jonker said required some “stiff medicine” but not a life sentence.

Those factors led Mr. Croft to receiving three and a half more years in prison than Mr. Fox – who like Mr. Croft will also get a chance at five years supervised release following his sentence.

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