The individual who was the ringleader of an attempt by members of right-wing militia organizations to abduct the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Tuesday in a United States District Court, according to the prosecutors.
In August, a federal court jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan, found Adam Fox, age 39, guilty on one count each of conspiring to abduct Whitmer, a Democrat, and plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a plot that prosecutors said was meant to trigger a “second American Revolution.”
Co-defendant Barry Croft Jr., 47, was found guilty of the same crimes as Fox at the same trial. Like Fox, Croft Jr. was a member of the Three Percenters militia group. Croft Jr. was set to be sentenced on Wednesday. The prosecutors identified Fox as the architect of a conspiracy to steal into Whitmer’s vacation house, kidnap her at gunpoint, and take her to stand “trial” on fake treason charges and face execution. The operation was reported as having been hatched by Fox.
According to the Detroit News, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jonker stated that he did not believe a life sentence was appropriate but that the crimes required a “substantial punishment.” This was in response to the prosecution’s request for a life sentence. According to the article, Fox did not speak at any point during the sentencing process and had no emotion toward the penalty itself.
In addition to the sentence of 192 months in prison, the judge imposed an additional five years of supervised release, according to the prosecutors. The attorney for Fox said that the prosecution was exaggerating his part in the case. The defense attorney continued by saying neither Fox nor Croft had ever used explosives and that the organization had no chance of successfully kidnapping the governor.
According to the prosecution, the group’s hostility to public health measures imposed by Whitmer during the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic served as the impetus for the scheme, which attempted to push the country into armed war as a controversial presidential contest neared in November 2020.
The bomb that was involved was the weapon of mass destruction, and according to the prosecutors, the defendant’s aim was to detonate the device to impede the response of law enforcement to the kidnapping. Whitmer disagreed publicly with the previous president, Donald Trump, on her COVID-19 policy. At the time, Whitmer served as co-chairman of Joe Biden’s campaign for the White House.
She accused Trump of stoking political extremism through his repeated use of heated rhetoric on the subject, including at a campaign rally in Michigan where his criticism of Whitmer was met with chants of “Lock her up” from the audience. She cited this as evidence that Trump was guilty of inciting political extremism.
In October 2020, thirteen individuals, including Fox and Croft, were caught for their involvement in a kidnapping conspiracy. In April of 2022, a federal judge found not guilty two other defendants who were put on trial alongside them. The prosecution against Fox and Croft was declared a mistrial because the same jury was unable to reach a decision in the case.
Both the initial federal trial and the retrial of Fox and Croft, which took place around four months later, featured testimony from two more defendants who had already pled guilty to charges of kidnapping conspiracy. Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, the witnesses who cooperated with the prosecution, were given sentences of two and a half years and four years in jail, respectively.
The three additional individuals were tried together in state court in October 2022 and convicted of playing supporting roles in the scheme as members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia. They were recently sentenced to minimum prison terms of 10, 12, and 7 years, respectively.
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