GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (AP) – Prosecutors are recommending a life prison sentence for a co-leader of the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan’s governor, reminding a judge that social media posts and secretly recorded conversations revealed a chilling desire to spark a “reign of terror” in 2020.
Barry Croft Jr was due in federal court on Wednesday, a day after key ally Adam Fox was sentenced to 16 years in prison after prosecutors also recommended a life sentence for his role in a scheme to abduct Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and galvanise their confederates toward civil war in other states.
The conspirators were furious over tough COVID-19 restrictions that Whitmer and officials in other states had put in place during the early months of the pandemic as well as perceived threats to gun ownership.
Assistant United States (US) Attorney Nils Kessler said in a court filing, “although he may not have had hierarchical control over all the other participants, he coordinated and pushed the implementation of the conspiracy from its inception to its final stages.
The FBI, which was secretly embedded in the group, broke things up a month before the 2020 presidential election and arrested 14 people.
Fox, 39, and Croft, 47, were convicted of two counts of conspiracy at a second trial in August. Croft also was found guilty of possessing an unregistered explosive. A different jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan, couldn’t reach a verdict on the pair at the first trial last spring but acquitted two other men.
“The abduction of the governor was only meant to be the beginning of Croft’s reign of terror,” Kessler said. “He called for riots, ‘torching’ government officials in their sleep and setting off a ‘domino’ effect of violence across the country”.