Sentence passed in US governor kidnap plot
One of the purported leaders of a failed plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was sentenced to 16 years in prison in federal court on Tuesday.
Prosecutors described Adam Fox as the “driving force urging [the plotters’] recruits to take up arms, kidnap the governor and kill those who stood in their way,” while his co-defendant, Barry Croft Jr., provided bomb-making skills and “ideology.”
Fox was convicted of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer and attempting to obtain a weapon of mass destruction – a bomb that would have been used to blow up a bridge – in August after an earlier attempt to charge him and Croft with the conspiracy led to a mistrial.
Although the prosecution described Fox as a “terrifying paramilitary leader,” his lawyer, Christopher Gibbons, characterized him as “an unemployed vacuum repairman who was venting his frustrations on social media” when he was ensnared in an FBI entrapment operation. Gibbons explained that Fox was merely following the lead of the agents who really masterminded the plot.
Over a dozen FBI informants were embedded in the Whitmer kidnapping scheme by the time participants were arrested in October 2020, and several participants’ lawyers have argued the plot would not exist if not for the intelligence agents financing, supplying, and shaping it.
That argument has not saved their clients from prison, however. Defendants Pete Musico, Joe Morrison, and Paul Bellar – who were only said to be indirectly involved in the Whitmer plot – received steep sentences earlier this month following convictions for providing material support for a terrorist act, gang membership, and firearms offenses.
Confessed co-conspirators Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks received reduced sentences after pleading guilty, while Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted of all charges in the same proceeding that saw Fox and Croft initially let off with a mistrial. Croft is due in court for sentencing on Wednesday.
The men supposedly targeted Whitmer, a Democrat, due to her administration’s draconian Covid-19 policies and hoped that kidnapping her would set off a civil war – though even prosecutors acknowledged they “had no real plan for what to do with the governor if they actually seized her.”