(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has repeatedly referred to herself as a “victim” of a right-wing kidnapping conspiracy—despite her always being aware that the FBI was monitoring and controlling the plot as it developed in 2020.
“I now scan crowds for threats. I think carefully about the last thing I say to people when we part. I worry about the safety of everyone near me when I’m in public. And I’m reluctant to share too much because I worry it will endanger a loved one, a staff member, a police officer on my security detail. I am changed and my family is changed,” Whitmer said last December during the sentencing hearing of three men found guilty of conspiring against her.
But as Whitmer continues her career in politics—recently jetting to Davos last month for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting—families of those ensnared in the FBI’s sting operation are still reeling.
Rosemarie Battaglia-McGuire, the mother of incarcerated plot defendant Barry Croft Jr., told Headline USA that her son had been supporting three daughters at the time of his arrest. Now, he’s lost custody of them to a mother who hadn’t been in their lives in more than a decade, she said.
To be sure, Croft was recorded saying damning things to FBI informants, such as when he said “I might kill a cop” at a June 6, 2020, militia meeting in Ohio.
However, Battaglia-McGuire said Croft received a raw deal in court. Records support her argument.
For starters, a federal jury originally declined to find Croft jury in his first trial.
In his retrial, the judge declined to compel the informant who recorded Croft from testifying—even though it turned out that the informant, Stephen Robeson, had gotten Croft drunk and high before recording his incriminating statements. Robeson had also been made an informant and contacted Croft before the FBI officially began its investigation, as Headline USA previously reported.
Additionally, the judge allowed prosecutors to present evidence of Croft’s 26-year-old gun and assault charges, even though he received a pardon from Delaware’s governor for those crimes in 2019. However, the judge disallowed defense attorneys from presenting evidence of FBI agents’ wrongdoings during the trial—one agent involved in the case savagely beat his wife and had posted anti-Trump comments on his Facebook, another was accused of perjury in an unrelated case, and a third was found to be using the Whitmer case to promote his private security company.
“He earned the pardon he got. He got custody of his children and for years was feverishly working and doing everything good—PTA, getting those kids to church, and so forth. That’s what made it so poignant that the FBI could motion and get that admissible, when what those very corrupt agents were doing was not admissible,” said Battaglia-McGuire.
Croft was convicted along with co-defendant Adam Fox last August, receiving a 235-month prison sentence in December.
Croft has an appeal pending, but Battaglia-McGuire said neither she nor her son are optimistic given their experience with the U.S. legal system so far. The mother said she’s thankful that her son has remained strong in prison.
“He’s going to church regularly, he’s helping the other men with their legal problems and their rights,” she said. “He’s studying the Bible … It’s been a joy to my heart that he’s at least turning to the Lord.”
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.