One of the 13 men arrested and charged for allegedly helping to plot a kidnapping of Michigan’s governor this month had been pardoned in another state last year.
Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, pardoned Barry Croft, 44, in April 2019.
Carney pardoned Croft for seven charges, including possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, theft over $500, and third-degree assault. The charges stemmed from incidents in the 1990s.
According to the pardon documents, Croft satisfied “the probation and/or financial obligation for these cases.”
Croft appeared before the state Board of Pardons on Dec. 13, 2018. The state didn’t oppose a pardon.
The board recommended the pardon be issued “based upon the lack of opposition from the State and the need for a pardon for employment purposes.”
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, a Democrat who chairs the Board of Pardons, told the Delaware News-Journal in a statement that the board considers several factors when deciding whether to recommend a pardon to the governor, including the nature of the incident and the impact on employment and housing.
“All of those factors were considered with this recommendation,” she said.
Other state officials defended the decision.
“The prior administration did not oppose this application because Croft’s criminal history was more than 20 years old and it appeared to everyone involved that his offenses were in his past and that he had gotten himself on the right track,” Mat Marshall, a spokeswoman for Democratic Attorney General Kathy Jennings, told The Associated Press.
“Needless to say, nobody—neither the DOJ nor the bipartisan Board of Pardons—would have endorsed a pardon had they known what the future held.”
“The charges brought in Michigan are disturbing, and everyone charged in this plot should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is also another warning sign about the growing threat of violence and radicalization in our politics,” said Jonathan Starkey, a spokesman for Carney, in a statement to news outlets.
Croft is accused of plotting with other men, including members of a militia called Wolverine Watchmen, to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, from her vacation home.
Croft was an early participant, meeting with 14 others in Dublin, Ohio, to talk about establishing a new society. Several people proposed taking violent action, including against the government of Michigan and Whitmer, who they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution.
Croft took part in training exercises, including combat drills, according to court documents. He also took part in a nighttime surveillance operation on Whitmer’s home in September.
He was charged with conspiracy and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
A public defender listed as Croft’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Croft was ordered detained during an Oct. 8 hearing. He is scheduled to appear at a virtual hearing on Oct. 13.