A federal jury on Tuesday found two men guilty of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.
Adam Fox and Barry Croft face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the kidnapping conspiracy conviction. They were also convicted of one count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
Their first trial ended in a mistrial.
Prosecutors allege Fox was the ringleader of a plot to kidnap the Democratic governor from her summer residence and that Croft was part of the plan and practiced detonating explosives in preparation.
Video appears to show Michigan suspects in training (2020)
“A lot of things are complicated today. There’s one thing that’s still pretty simple – kidnapping is wrong. You can’t just put on an AR-15 and a body armor and go snatch the Governor. You can’t rip anyone out, and you certainly can’t make bombs to maim and kill people. And this case is about a plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer. But that was not the ultimate goal of these defendants,” prosecutor Nils Kessler said during closing arguments Monday morning.
“They wanted to start a second American Civil War and the second American Revolution,” Kessler said.
Defense attorneys maintained an entrapment defense, arguing that the FBI coerced the defendants into advancing the conspiracy through a group of undercover agents and confidential informants.
Fox’s attorney told jurors during closing arguments that he was lured into the scheme by the government’s key witness, a confidential informant called “Big Dan.”
“Adam Fox was never predisposed to the crime of kidnapping Governor Whitmer. He talked about a great game, but talking is just talking. Adam Fox took no affirmative action to achieve the objectives when Special Agent Chambers and Big Dan pushed so hard to achieve it,” Fox attorney Christopher Gibbons said.
A lawyer for Croft told the jury on Monday that FBI agents lied on the stand about Croft’s involvement in an attempt to catch him for any crime they could due to his years of extreme internet chatter. against the government.
“Now, as we have sat here the last two weeks together in the trial, the government has shown us time and time again that they don’t care that Barry Croft hasn’t in fact reached an agreement to kidnap the governor. They think it’s enough that some of the things Barry says scare them,” Croft’s attorney Joshua Blanchard told the court. “They would like to put him in a cage, not because he committed this crime, but because they are afraid of the things that came out of his mouth.”
None of the defendants testified in their own defense.
A federal judge declared a mistrial for a hung jury in Fox and Croft’s first trial earlier this year. Two other men acquitted in the first trial, Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris, ultimately did not testify in the defense case despite being subpoenaed by the defense.
Two other co-defendants who pleaded guilty before the first trial, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, testified in both trials.
Croft was also found guilty on Tuesday of an additional weapons possession charge.
David Porter, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Detroit, said the verdict is a “clear example” that anti-government views do not justify violence.
“Here in America, if you disagree with your government, you have options. You can criticize your government, you can protest, you can elect your elected officials,” Porter told reporters outside the courthouse. “However, what you cannot do is plan or commit acts of violence. Violence is never the answer.”
This story has been updated with additional details.