Barry Croft Jr., 47, of Bear, was sentenced this week to more than 19 years in in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to kidnap the Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property, He was also convicted of knowingly possessing an unregistered destructive device – commercial fireworks refashioned with shrapnel to serve as a hand-grenade.
Croft was convicted by a federal jury in August following an 11-day retrial. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Croft and others intended to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation cottage in Michigan and use the destructive devices harm and hinder the governor’s security detail and any responding law enforcement officers. They explored placing a bomb under an interstate overpass near a pedestrian boardwalk. A jury in an earlier trial was unable to reach a verdict.
Croft is the final defendant to be sentenced for his role in the plot. Croft worked as a truck driver while living in Delaware.
Attorneys for Croft and other defendants claimed the group was not serious about carrying out the plot and pointed to the FBI embedding a witness within the group, with Croft and others being “big talkers.” Prosecutors were able to convince the jury that Croft was a ringleader who traveled to Michigan to hatch the plot that included traveling to a bridge that according to posecutors was to be destroyed as a way to hinder a response to an abduction.
Croft and other defendants were upset about Covid-19 restrictions in Michigan. Delaware had similar restrictions. However, Croft focused on the curbs in Michigan that, at one point, led to armed protesters entering the state capitol. The protest was viewed by some as a lead-up to the Jan. 6 stormng of the U.S. Capitol.
Whitmer’s Covid restrictions had been criticized by President Donald Trump during his race for a second term in office. Delaware’s governor John Carney did not get similar criticism.
This November, Whitmer won a second term as Michigan governor over a candidate who backed Trump’s claim that he won out over Biden, the former vice president and U.S. Senator from Delaware, due to fraud.
A number of Delawareans have faced prosecution over entering the capitol and attempting to overturn election results that certified Joe Biden’s presidential victory over Donald Trump.
Co-defendant Adam Fox, 39, of Wyoming, MI, was earlier sentenced to 16 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for his role in the conspiracy. Ty Garbin, 27, of Hartland, Michigan, pleaded guilty in January 2021 and initially received a sentence of 75 months, or over six years, in prison. The district court later reduced that sentence to a term of 30 months, or two and a half years in prison, after fully considering his cooperation at both trials. Kaleb Franks, 28, of Waterford, MI, received a term of four years in prison after pleading guilty and testifying at both trials. Co-defendants Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted at the first trial in April 2022.
The FBI’s Detroit Field Office investigated the case with valuable assistance provided by the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including Michigan State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
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