Architect of Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Sentenced to More Than 19 Years

Barry Croft Jr., 47, a Delaware trucker, was described by prosecutors in a federal courtroom in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday as the “spiritual leader” and “the ideas guy” of the 2020 plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Croft was sentenced Wednesday to 19½ years in prison, the longest sentence of the four men convicted on federal charges in the most closely watched domestic terrorism case in recent years.

“The abduction of the governor was only meant to be the beginning of Croft’s reign of terror,” U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said. “He called for riots, ‘torching’ government officials in their sleep and setting off a ‘domino’ effect of violence across the country.”

Croft regularly wore a tri-cornered hat common during the American Revolution and had tattoos on his arms symbolizing resistance — “Expect Us” — as he traveled to Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan to meet with like-minded extremists.

Croft and his co-conspirator, 39-year-old Adam Fox of Michigan, were convicted by a federal jury after a second trial in August on two counts of conspiracy, while Croft also was found guilty of an additional weapons charge. 

Adam Fox was sentenced on Tuesday to 16 years in prison.

Two more defendants pleaded guilty in 2021 and early 2022 and agreed to testify against Croft and Fox.

The two who testified against Croft and Fox were given substantial breaks. Ty Garbin already is free after a 2 1/2-year prison term, while Kaleb Franks was given a four-year sentence.

Another two defendants were acquitted at their federal trial in April.

In explaining why he would not hand down a life sentence, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker said no one was ultimately injured and no infrastructure was destroyed.

In all, fourteen men were arrested by state and federal prosecutors.

Croft’s sentencing wraps up the federal prosecutions of six defendants.

In state court, three men recently were given lengthy sentences for assisting Fox earlier in the summer of 2020. Joseph Morrison, 28; Pete Musico, 45; and Paul Bellar, 24, were sentenced to a minimum of 10 years, 12 years and at least seven years in prison, respectively, for aiding in the plan.

Five more are awaiting state trial in Antrim County, where Whitmer’s vacation home is located.

Washington Post, CBS