Barry Croft and Adam Fox were also convicted of conspiring to obtain a weapon of mass destruction. Croft was found guilty of an additional explosives charge, according to the Associated Press. On the conspiracy charge alone, the two men face up to life in prison.
The decision is a victory for prosecutors and the FBI, who were left embarrassed in April after a jury deadlocked on charges against Croft and Fox and acquitted two other men of conspiracy charges. Prosecutors pursued the case against Croft and Fox, the alleged masterminds behind an extremist plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and try her for treason over her COVID-19 lockdown policies.
“You can’t just strap on an AR-15 and body armor and go snatch the governor,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler, who led the prosecution, told jurors, according to the AP.
“But that wasn’t the defendants’ ultimate goal,” Kessler said. “They wanted to set off a second American civil war, a second American Revolution, something that they call the boogaloo. And they wanted to do it for a long time before they settled on Gov. Whitmer.”
The jury heard recordings of the two men making vulgar and violent comments toward the governor gathered over a seven-month investigation that produced thousands of hours of recordings. The investigation, run by the FBI, also sparked questions over FBI methods and the proper conduct for bureau informants, known officially as confidential human sources.
Croft and Fox were part of separate militia groups, but prosecutors said the two men worked together to make a coordinated plan to kidnap the governor of Michigan. One of the plans involved kidnapping the governor and abandoning her on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan. In another, prosecutors said the conspirators formulated a plan to blow up a bridge to cut off a police response while a strike team captured the governor from her cottage near Elk Rapids, Michigan.
The defendants’ attorneys, rather than deny their clients made the statements, argued that the comments were part of a pattern of both men to engage in tough talk, but Croft and Fox never intended to carry out the assault. The defendants’ attorneys also blamed their clients heavy use of marijuana, in part facilitated by FBI informants, on their extreme statements.
“Adam Fox was never predisposed to the crime of kidnapping Gov. Whitmer. He talked a big game, but talk is just talk,” Fox’s attorney, Christopher Gibbons, told the jury during closing remarks on Monday.
Croft’s attorney, Joshua Blanchard, also accused the FBI of entrapment.
“You don’t have to agree with Barry’s politics — I certainly don’t. But we should all agree that the principles of truth and justice are the foundation that our country was built upon,” Blanchard said. “The FBI has told us that the truth doesn’t matter to them … you have the power to put a stop to that today … you can tell the government that half-truths are not enough.”
Whitmer released a statement on Tuesday celebrating the verdict and warning of the perils of “radicalized domestic terrorism.”
“Today’s verdicts prove that violence and threats have no place in our politics and those who seek to divide us will be held accountable. They will not succeed,” she said. “But we must also take a hard look at the status of our politics. Plots against public officials and threats to the FBI are a disturbing extension of radicalized domestic terrorism that festers in our nation, threatening the very foundation of our republic.”
This piece has been updated to include reaction from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.