Accused Whitmer kidnap plotter who threatened to behead Trump complains about prison
A Delaware man accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and who investigators say threatened to hang President Donald Trump, wants out of a prison coping with COVID-19.
Barry Croft, 45, of Bear, Delaware, requested bond Friday, two days after being indicted in a kidnapping conspiracy case alongside five others. Croft was arrested in New Jersey in October after investigators said they thwarted the kidnap plot and he has not been brought to federal court in Grand Rapids to face charges.
Croft, who FBI agents say posted a hit list on Facebook targeting Muslims and politicians, including former President Barack Obama, complained about the delay in a court filing.
"The unreasonable delay of more than two months in bringing Mr. Croft to this district is frustrating Mr. Croft’s ability to defend these charges," Croft's lawyer, Joshua Blanchard, wrote Friday.
Prosecutors attributed the delay to unspecified "COVID-related issues at FDC Philadelphia," according to Blanchard's filing. Federal prison records show 21 inmates and staff members are being treated after contracting the virus while 277 have recovered since earlier this year.
The case against Croft has been delayed as five co-defendants have been arraigned, made initial appearances in federal court and ordered held without bond pending trial in federal court in Grand Rapids.
Croft's lawyer wants his client released on bond so he can be arraigned in Grand Rapids or, alternatively, be brought to west Michigan within seven days.
The case has drawn national attention because of the target of the kidnapping conspiracy and what the FBI describes as violent extremism fueled by anger over state restrictions on travel and business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Defense lawyers have portrayed their clients as tough talkers who were exercising their First Amendment rights who never carried out any kidnapping plot.
In all, 14 people have been charged in the alleged kidnapping plot with state and federal crimes. Authorities say the plot involved training and planning by a militia group known as the Wolverine Watchmen to kidnap Whitmer and storm Michigan's Capitol in Lansing.
An unsealed search warrant affidavit exclusively obtained by The Detroit News provides details about how the FBI thwarted the alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, and kill police officers by enlisting the help of confidential informants. One of the informants was a militia member who met a group of men accused in the kidnapping plot and became so concerned that the individual agreed to become an FBI confidential informant, according to the court filing.
The affidavit gave federal agents permission to search a Facebook account belonging to Croft. Evidence collected by FBI agents portrays his Facebook account as a virtual bulletin board filled with violent imagery, including a noose and a list of grievances in which he mulled killing Democrats and Republicans including South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Muslims and liberals.
"I say we hang everything currently governing us, they're all guilty!!!," Croft wrote in May on his Facebook page, which also included an image of Trump. "Wanna hang this mf'er too..."
In late June, Croft posted a photo of a noose and a caption that listed people and groups that should "hang." The list included references to Obama; former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; as well as Democrats, liberals, Muslims and "all anti-Americans."
The FBI search warrant affidavit helps trace the roots of an alleged conspiracy that the FBI says included surveillance visits to the governor's home in northern Michigan and training with firearms and explosive devices.
The FBI started investigating in March after an unidentified police department learned about members of the militia group who were trying to obtain the home addresses of local police officers, according to court filings.