Second suspect in Whitmer kidnapping plot pleads guilty

Kaleb Franks

A man charged in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pleaded guilty Wednesday, a second key conviction for the government just a month before four others face trial.

Kaleb Franks joined Ty Garbin as the second person to admit guilt in a plot to abduct the Democratic governor before FBI agents arrested them in October 2020. The plea gives prosecutors another important witness for the March 8 trial.

The government said the group wanted to kidnap Whitmer because of disgust over her COVID-19 restrictions.

Franks replied, "yes, sir," to a series of questions from U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip Green about his role.

He signed a document admitting he "was not entrapped or induced to commit any crimes" by undercover agents or informants. Garbin pleaded guilty in 2021 and was sentenced to slightly more than six years in prison.

Franks acknowledged in court documents that he was deeply involved in the plot, which included outdoor training with firearms in Wisconsin and Michigan and scouting Whitmer’s second home in northern Michigan.

In August 2020, less than two months before their arrest, Franks said he and a co-defendant "discussed their frustration with people who advocated anti-government action but were unwilling to use force themselves."

While there is no agreement on the length of his prison sentence, Franks could be rewarded if he "materially and substantially assists" the government.

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Besides Adam Fox, who is described as a ringleader, the remaining defendants are Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.

When the kidnapping case was filed in 2020, it added even more heat to the final weeks of a tumultuous election season.

Whitmer pinned some blame on then-President Donald Trump, saying his refusal to denounce far-right groups had inspired extremists across the country. Trump had earlier urged supporters to "LIBERATE" Michigan and two other states led by Democratic governors from stay-at-home mandates.