In what the government has referred to as one of the largest domestic terrorism cases in recent American history, Adam Fox was found guilty of conspiring to abduct Governor Gretchen Whitmer and was given a 16-year jail term more than two years after his arrest.

The prosecution had asked for a life sentence for Fox, claiming he belonged to an extremist violent group that wanted to not only abduct the governor but also to incite a civil revolt.

Fox’s attorney, Christopher Gibbons, had long argued against a life sentence, stating that Fox was a follower rather than a leader who looked up to FBI informants and undercover agents who had accompanied Fox and others during training sessions and reconnaissance of the governor’s vacation home near Traverse City. However, the judge granted Fox the mercy he sought.

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Government in its memorandum employs exaggerated language to create the false narrative of a terrifying paramilitary leader, as per  Gibbons’s documents in court. 

Adam Fox is said to have assembled a group of operators into an army. These melodramatic portrayals of Adam Fox do not rationally address his actual behaviour, and neither do they accurately reflect his true aims or his genuine ability.

“Adam Fox was an unemployed vacuum repairman who vented his emotions on social media while complying by Michigan law. Adam Fox does not command a multistate army of domestic terrorists,” Gibbons stated.

US Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Nils Kessler disagreed, describing Fox as a “ready and able operations leader.”

“This was no ordinary kidnapping scheme,” Kessler claimed in court records. “He specifically sought an official victim, and not just any official, but the head of a state. He wasn’t a bystander; he was a proactive recruiter and key mover.”

In an FBI sting operation in October 2020 outside a warehouse in Ypsilanti, four men were detained, including Fox. According to the prosecution, the guys were there to make a down payment on explosives and get free military equipment. Instead, they were captured by waiting FBI officers.

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The following day in New Jersey, Barry Croft Jr., a fifth defendant from Bear, Delaware, was taken into custody.

In August, a jury declared Fox and Croft Jr. guilty.

While two further individuals Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted in a separate trial in April, two other men entered guilty pleas to the same crimes. Fox and Croft’s first trial ended in hung juries for both of them.

At both cases, the prosecution contended that the conspirators planned to kidnap Whitmer in large part out of resentment for how she handled the outbreak. A former militiaman who joined a group called the Wolverine Watchmen and learned of their plan to target police officers contacted the FBI and agreed to go undercover. He is the government’s star witness and assisted the FBI in building the case.

According to the defendants, this was an instance of entrapment. Rogue FBI agents and informants, who were looking to advance their own careers, came up with the kidnapping plan and then used it to tempt the defendants into saying and acting in ways they otherwise will not.

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The judge rejected Fox and Croft’s demands for a third trial and an appeal of their convictions in November. Wednesday will see the sentencing of Croft Jr.