https://www.theepochtimes.com/co-leader-in-scheme-to-kidnap-michigan-governor-sentenced-to-nearly-20-years-in-prison_4949547.html

A Delaware trucker described by federal officials as a co-leader of the plan to kidnap Michigan’s governor was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison Wednesday, a day after an accomplice received 16 years behind bars.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Barry Croft Jr., 47, who was the fourth and final federal defendant to learn his fate. Judge Robert J. Jonker described him as “the idea guy” behind the plot and called him “a very convincing communicator” for people who were open to his views.

Both Croft and Adam Fox, who was sentenced Tuesday, were convicted in August of conspiracy charges in Grand Rapids. Croft also was found guilty of possessing an unregistered explosive.

They were accused of hatching a stunning plot to abduct Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home, officials said in mid-October 2020. The plotters were allegedly angry over Whitmer’s lockdown policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer was never in any physical danger, while lawyers for other defendants have argued that the FBI agents and informants were secretly embedded in the group. Two men who were accused were acquitted and two other cases went to mistrial.

“He essentially was putting himself as a role of a prophet … there are people who believe this sort of rhetoric, and he used it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler told the judge Wednesday.

Croft’s attorney, Joshua Blanchard, said in a court filing that he didn’t actually have authority over others and often frustrated them because he “just kept talking.” “Simply put, to the extent that the jury determined he was a participant, as they necessarily did, he was a participant to a lesser degree than others,” Blanchard insisted.

Prosecutors alleged in the August trial that both Fox and Croft wanted to cause national chaos by kidnapping Whitmer, a Democrat, before the 2020 General Election. Defense attorneys said that the pair were “big talkers” and were entrapped by federal informants and agents.

Federal prosecutors said that a key piece of evidence was when Croft, Fox, and others traveled to see Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan, with undercover agents and informants inside the group.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a news conference at the governor’s office in Lansing, Mich., on March 11, 2022. (David Eggert/AP Photo)

At one point, Croft told allies: “I don’t like seeing anybody get killed either. But you don’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, you know what I mean,” according to The Associated Press.

Earlier this month, Whitmer released a video of her impact statement in which they said the defendants “supported a violent conspiracy and provided material support for terrorism” and also “chose actions that are antithetical to what makes our nation strong and safe.”

Controversies

At least one of the FBI’s informants in the conspiracy to abduct Whitmer violated federal law by selling a gun to a convicted felon, an FBI agent testified on Aug. 12. Steve Robeson, one of the informants who is also a felon, purchased a gun, said agent Christopher Long. Federal law prohibits convicted felons from purchasing or owning guns.

Long said that Robeson bought a Taurus 9 mm pistol from another FBI informant, Jenny Plunk.

Earlier, Michael Hills, an attorney for defendant Brandon Caserta, argued in early 2021 that an FBI field agent allegedly told an informant to lie and delete text messages. Hills, while in court, provided images that purported to show FBI agent Impola Henrik telling the defendant to “be sure to delete these,” possibly referring to text messages about the plot.

“These text messages indicate the F.B.I. was pushing their paid agent to actively recruit people into an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy,” Hills wrote in a filing last year.

In response, federal prosecutors wrote that the defendants in the plot were not entrapped and said the FBI wasn’t involved in furthering the scheme to kidnap Whitmer. Kessler, the assistant U.S. Attorney, wrote that the “defendants were predisposed to join the kidnapping and explosive conspiracies” and did not need the FBI’s help.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Breaking News Reporter

Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.

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