2 Alleged Militiamen Found Guilty in Governor Abduction Plot to Start '2nd American Revolution:' Prosecutors
Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr, were found guilty of planning to abduct Governor Gretchen Whitmer in what prosecutors say was an attempt to start a "second American revolution."
On Tuesday, a jury convicted two men accused of conspiring to trigger "a second American revolution" by kidnapping Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, according to Reuters.
The two men, Adam Fox, 39, and Barry Croft Jr., 46, who the government says are members of the Three Percenters militia group, according to the outlet.
Fox and Croft Jr. are among 13 men who were arrested in October 2020 and charged with state or federal crimes in the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. Seven of them are facing charges in state court, officials said.
The conviction of Fox and Croft comes after the U.S. government prosecuted the case for the second time. Four months prior, a federal judge in Grand Rapids, Michigan, declared a mistrial in the case. Two other defendants were found not guilty in the initial trial, according to the Detroit News.
Prosecutors say that Fox and Croft allegedly were part of a plan to force an end to the mandates Whitmer, a Democrat, had enacted to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the trial, the prosecution said that Fox compiled a list of tools the conspirators would need during his planning for the kidnapping, according to the Detroit News. Prosecutors said this included handcuffs and a hood to cover Whitmer’s head, and a makeshift house was built to simulate breaking into the governor's vacation home and abducting her, according to the outlet.
According to the outlet, by kidnapping the governor and putting her "on trial," the men hoped to push the country into open conflict as a contentious presidential election approached in November 2020.
"They wanted to set off a second American Civil War and a second American Revolution," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler told jurors during closing arguments on Monday.
"They didn’t want to just kidnap her," Kessler said, referring to the governor. "They wanted to execute her."
Attorneys for Croft and Fox told jurors in their closing arguments that the government's case was entrapment, saying their clients committed no crimes and they criticized the use of FBI informants in the case.
"The FBI should not exist to make people look like terrorists when they aren't," Joshua Blanchard, an attorney for Croft, said to jurors.
Fox and Croft were also found guilty of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction: an explosive device that prosecutors say was intended to hinder law enforcement's response to the planned kidnapping, according to Reuters.
For about eight hours over two days, a 12-member jury panel deliberated, according to the Detroit News. In this retrial, prosecutors again used testimony from both FBI informants and key witnesses who pleaded guilty to kidnapping conspiracy charges.
Both Croft and Fox are facing the potential of life in prison. A sentencing date has yet to be announced.
Following the verdicts, Whitmer spoke about the dangers of "radicalized domestic terrorism."
"I cannot - I will not - let extremists get in the way of the work we do," she said in a statement issued by her office. "They will never break my unwavering faith in the goodness and decency of our people."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement on Tuesday that the threat to Whitmer also put bystanders at risk and that no elected official should be targeted in such a way.
"Today's verdict confirms this plot was very real and very dangerous," Birge said. "The Justice Department will not tolerate violent extremist plots of this nature seeking to undermine our democracy."
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