A Michigan federal judge has sentenced a man for plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor. On Wednesday, Gretchen Whitmer will be sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.
Barry Croft Jr. said it was part of a 2020 plan to kidnap the Democratic governor from her summer home and practice detonating explosives, prosecutors said.
Croft, who was sentenced to 235 months in federal prison, the longest sentence of any conviction, was the last defendant to be sentenced in federal court for the conspiracy. Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Croft to life in prison.
Explaining his sentencing decision, Judge Robert Juncker said: “I’m not one to give someone up. That’s why I think, in particular, a life sentence is very unusual.”
“Because, by definition, you’re not giving people the opportunity to come back,” he said.
But Juncker also agreed with prosecutors that Croft was the leader of others involved in the plot and that his previous criminal record was noted at sentencing.
A Delaware resident, Croft traveled to Michigan to work with local militias planning and monitoring Whitmer’s summer home in the summer of 2020. Croft discussed using his grenade launcher and machine gun to prevent law enforcement from responding to the scene as part of a kidnapping conspiracy, jurors heard at trial.
Trial evidence also showed that Croft used paper human silhouettes to practice detonating shrapnel-laden explosives during training events.
Croft’s attorney, Joshua Blanchard, asked the court on Wednesday for an adequate sentence, but “not more than necessary.”
In a lengthy request to the court, Blanchard asked the judge to consider Croft’s history of substance abuse and mental health issues, which are largely related to his heavy marijuana use and family medical history.
He blamed drunkenness for much of Croft’s behavior in 2020 and said Croft fell down a “conspiracy rabbit hole” while driving alone as a long-haul truck driver before his arrest and ended up in court.
Blanchard acknowledged his client was “more susceptible to fringe ideas” and said he understood Croft should serve a prison sentence, not a life sentence.
Croft declined to speak on his behalf at the sentencing hearing, citing the advice of his attorney.
But prosecutors pushed back on the defense’s arguments on Wednesday, telling the court, “This man is thoroughly radicalized.”
“He has not changed his views,” said prosecutor Niels Kessler.
In his argument, Kessler said Croft was the group’s “spiritual leader” who “cast himself in the role of prophet.”
He also went on to argue that Croft encouraged other participants to say they would be “the new Founding Fathers.”
“People believed it,” Kessler said.
Croft has long been known to law enforcement for his extreme anti-government views. In his sentencing memo, prosecutors noted a prison call recorded earlier this month during which Croft discussed his preferences for a violent and lawless society with a colleague.
On Tuesday, Jonker sentenced Adam Fox, believed to be the leader of the Croft conspiracy, to 16 years in prison.
“The public needs to understand the cost of this misconduct and of course concrete deterrent measures are needed. This has implications across our entire system of government, not just the physical threat to our current governor, which is now our governor’s burden. emotional baggage, which she also addressed in her report,” Jonker said in court, before Fox was jailed.
And, earlier this month, three other men — Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison and Paul Bella — were all sentenced in state court on charges of gang involvement, supporting acts of terrorism, and Carrying or possessing a firearm while committing a felony. to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Musico and Bellar must serve at least 12 and seven years, respectively. The group’s alleged “commander” Morrison – known online by the “Boogaloo Bunyan” according to an affidavit lodged with the Attorney General’s Office – must serve at least 11 years in prison.
This story has been updated with more information.