A Michigan federal judge sentenced a man convicted of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to 16 years in prison Tuesday.
Prosecutors said that Adam Fox was the leader of a plot to kidnap the Democratic governor from her summer home in 2020.
A jury convicted Fox and an accomplice in August on charges of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
“There is need for public understanding of the cost of this kind of wrongdoing and certainly for specific deterrence as well. And there is impact on our overall governmental system, not just physical threat to our sitting governor, it’s the emotional baggage that now our governor will have to carry and that she’s written about in her report,” Judge Robert Jonker said in court before issuing Fox’s prison sentence Tuesday.
He added, “And beyond that, it does affect not just the willingness and eagerness of our own governor to continue in office but undoubtedly affects other people who are either in public office or are considering public office.”
Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Fox to life in prison – the maximum sentence per federal guidelines for his convictions.
“You could fairly say that none of this would have happened if Mr. Fox had not been involved,” prosecutor Nils Kessler said in court Tuesday.
Jonker said in court that a sentence of life in prison is not necessary to serve as a deterrent to potential violence against public officials.
“By advising a term of life in prison applies here, sends a clear message of just how serious a sentence is warranted for Fox. Public officials should never have to worry for their safety, or the security of their families, because of the hard decisions their jobs require. If our elected leaders must live in fear, our representative government suffers,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo.
Fox’s defense attorney Christopher Gibbons told the judge Tuesday that the prosecution “overstates the reality of the conduct that has been alleged and what was actually accomplished by Adam Fox in the summer of 2020.”
Fox declined to speak on his own behalf at his sentencing hearing. “I’m satisfied with what my lawyer said,” Fox told the judge.
This story has been updated with additional details.