Croft is one of several people charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, authorities said Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in announcing charges in an alleged scheme that involved months of planning and even rehearsals to snatch Whitmer from her vacation home.
Earlier Friday, Berens found that prosecutors had provided enough evidence to move toward trial for the Garbin, Fox, Franks, Harris and Caserta. Photos show all three men were armed. The magistrate judge in the case says there is. That is required for them to face trial.
A bail ruling on a fifth defendant, Ty Garbin, was expected at a hearing on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Western Michigan.
Ty Garbin had been arrested for allegedly scheming with others to kidnap Whitmer from her upstate MI vacation home, including casing out her home at night with his cohorts over the weekend of September 12 and 13.
The federal preliminary hearing began Tuesday and wrapped up Friday.
Fox and Croft were among those who attended that session, according to testimony and federal court documents. If convicted, Higgins could get up to 20 years in prison.
MI has been a hot spot for disagreements over shutdowns and other restrictions Whitmer ordered to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus - actions that allegedly sparked the plot against her.
They also questioned whether the government had proven that the men had formed an agreement and that all of them meant to participate.
A spokesperson for Nessel said it was uncertain whether Higgins had an attorney.
Federal Judge Sally Berens countered that prosecutors are anxious about the guns even if they are legally owned because the alleged "purpose of the possession of those firearms was illegal".
"This should be a moment for national unity where we all pull together as Americans to meet this challenge head-on", she said. The plan was allegedly created because the defendants were upset over the pandemic lockdown.
Berens agreed, saying prosecutors didn't have to show the men "signed on a dotted line" at this stage of their case. Berens found that the information presented showed the men had a unified goal - to kidnap Whitmer - allowing the case to move forward.
Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., was charged with material support of an act of terrorism, Attorney General Dana Nessel said.
"The fact that (the plan) was likely to be unsuccessful or hard to accomplish" isn't relevant to decide whether there is probable cause that they made a plan, she said. Michigan's attorney general charged an eighth person - a Wisconsin man - in that case on Thursday.