GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Federal prosecutors are moving forward with their case against two men accused of leading a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after their trial ended with a hung jury.
The attorneys for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. last month filed a motion to dismiss all charges against the men. But federal prosecutors have responded with a motion asking the judge to deny that request.
“The evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to support the defendants’ conviction as to all the charged offenses,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils R. Kessler wrote in his response.
A hearing is scheduled for June 14 before Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker.
“The parties should be prepared to address logistical questions regarding duration and timing of re-trial if the court denies the (acquittal) motion,” the judge wrote.
On April 8, following a 20-day trial, the jury deadlocked on the cases against Fox and Croft while finding co-defendants Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta not guilty.
The feds said the men started the conspiracy in June 2020 at a meeting of militia members in Ohio. Their plan, they said, evolved to kidnapping the governor from her cottage in Elk Rapids, blowing up a bridge or two to slow down police, then taking her in a boat, either to strand her in Lake Michigan or to Wisconsin to face trial and execution.
They were angry, the feds said, over Whitmer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and hoped to ignite a second Civil War.
Defense attorneys argued that the FBI, working with informants, entrapped their clients.
“Government agents may not originate a criminal design,” Fox’s attorney, Christopher Gibbons, wrote in his motion to acquit. “Yet that is precisely what occurred here. In this case, the Government produced evidence that Adam Fox was prone to speaking offensively, making objectively anti-government statements, and juvenile remarks casually advocating violence.”
The feds, in their response, argued the FBI did not entrap the men.
“Both Fox and Croft espoused anti-government action long before they met any government agents or informants,” Kessler wrote in his motion. “Croft had been advocating a ‘second American revolution’ (including tattooing his body with insurrectionist slogans) for years, and proposed hanging a governor to destabilize the states like ‘dominoes.”
“The jury saw Fox likewise broadcast his desire to ‘kick off the boogaloo’ (initiate a second civil war) before he met any government agents or sources,” he wrote.
The feds argued the men provided no evidence that the idea to kidnap Whitmer came from the government.
“On the contrary, Croft told the plotters in Dublin, Ohio, that he had received permission directly from God,” Kessler wrote. “Fox proposed storming the Capitol and trading hostages for the Governor the first time he met CHS (Informant) Dan and the other potential recruits Croft sent his way.”
U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge has said he plans to try Fox and Croft again.