A Michigan federal judge convicted a man convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s governor. Gretchen Whitmer to 16 years in prison on Tuesday.
Prosecutors said Adam Fox was the leader of a conspiracy to kidnap the Democratic governor from her summer home in 2020.
A jury convicted Fox and an accomplice in August of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
“There needs to be a public understanding of the cost of this type of misconduct and certainly targeted deterrence. And there are implications for our entire system of government, not just a physical threat to our incumbent governor, it’s the emotional baggage that our governor has to carry now and that she wrote about in her report,” Judge Robert Jonker said in court before he Fox issued jail time Tuesday.
He added, “And further, not only does it affect our own governor’s willingness and eagerness to continue in office, it undoubtedly impacts other individuals who are either in public office or contemplating public office.”
Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Fox to life in prison — the maximum sentence under federal guidelines for his convictions.
“One could rightly say that none of this would have happened if Mr. Fox was not involved,” prosecutor Nils Kessler said in court on Tuesday.
Jonker told the court that a life sentence was not necessary to deter potential violence against officers.
“By recommending life imprisonment here, it sends a clear message of just how severe a sentence Fox deserves. Government officials should never have to worry about their safety or the safety of their families because of the tough decisions their job requires. When our elected leaders live in fear, our representative government suffers,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Fox defense attorney Christopher Gibbons told the judge Tuesday that prosecutors “overstate the reality of the alleged conduct and what Adam Fox actually accomplished in the summer of 2020.”
Fox declined to speak on his own behalf at his sentencing hearing. “I am satisfied with what my attorney said,” Fox told the judge.
In a sentencing note, Gibbons asked the court to sentence Fox to about four to six years in prison. What he said jibes with prison sentences given to co-defendants who pleaded guilty before trial and were given reduced sentences for collaborating against Fox and others.
Defense attorneys have consistently upheld a lockdown defense, arguing that the FBI forced the defendants to advance the conspiracy through a collection of undercover agents and confidential informants.
However, prosecutors struck down that argument in court, noting that Fox had expressed no remorse. “This defendant is going to go to jail and will likely come out more radicalized than he came in and will remain a danger to the public,” Kessler said.
Jonker recommended substance abuse and mental health evaluation and treatment for Fox.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel hailed the ruling as “a clear signal that domestic terrorism will not be tolerated.”
“The actions of Adam Fox have undermined the safety of every Michigan resident. I am deeply grateful to Judge Jonker, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the Michigan State Police and everyone who worked together to ensure justice was done,” Nessel said Tuesday.
Another person involved in the conspiracy, Barry Croft, is due to be convicted on Wednesday. Croft was part of the plan with Fox and the others and practiced detonating explosives in preparation, prosecutors said at the trial.
Additionally, earlier this month three other men involved in the conspiracy – Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison and Paul Bellar – were convicted of gang involvement, aiding a terrorist attack and carrying or possessing a firearm while committing a crime. according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Musico and Bellar must serve at least 12 years and seven years, respectively. The group’s alleged “commander,” Morrison — who went online under the online nickname “Boogaloo Bunyan,” according to affidavits filed with prosecutors — must serve a minimum of 11 years.
This story has been updated with additional details.