Second Plea Deal Reached In Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

Kent County Sheriff's Office, TPM Illustration

Prosecutors have reached their second plea deal with a defendant in the alleged kidnapping plot aimed at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), according to court documents filed Monday. 

Defendant Kaleb Franks’ deal requires his pleading guilty to the kidnapping conspiracy, in which he allegedly took part alongside other members of the “Wolverine Watchmen” militia group. Franks, 27, is also required to cooperate with federal and state law enforcement, and to provide testimony. 

The alleged kidnapping plot, which prosecutors say took shape over several months in 2020, involved months of planning, including shooting drills, surveillance of the governor’s vacation home, and even talk of using explosives to slow the anticipated law enforcement response. 

After considering several other ideas, including violently storming the state Capitol with guns, the group allegedly settled on the kidnapping plan in July. 

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“The defendant knowingly and voluntarily joined that plan,” the plea deal reads.

The alleged scheme was captured at essentially every step along the way by law enforcement informants, despite the plotters’ paranoia about police infiltration. 

The remaining federal defendants are expected to raise an entrapment defense at trial next month, The Detroit News noted

And Franks’ plea deal nods at this defense, referring to law enforcement sources named “Dan” and “Steve” and then stating, “The defendant was not entrapped or inducted to commit any crimes by these individuals.” 

Then, the plea agreement refers to Franks’ alleged co-conspirators Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. 

“The defendant also knows Fox, Croft, Harris and Caserta were not entrapped, based on personal observation and discussions,” the agreement says. 

“During all their months of training together, the defendant never heard Fox, Croft, Harris, or Caserta say they were doing anything because [confidential human source] Dan, CHS Steve, or any other informant had advocated it,” the document adds later. 

Franks’ and his attorney’s signatures on the document are dated Feb. 6. 

Franks would have stood trial on March 8 alongside four other co-conspirators. A sixth alleged co-conspirator in the federal case, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to kidnap charge last January, and was sentenced to six years in prison in August.

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