Michigan Kidnap Plotter Gets Prison, Apologizes to Whitmer

Judge goes light, saying Kaleb Franks 'came clean'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2020 11:45 AM CDT
Updated Oct 6, 2022 6:25 PM CDT
Feds Reveal Plot to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a file photo.   (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, File)

Update: A Michigan man who admitted plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison, given credit by the judge for testifying for the prosecution in two related trials. Kaleb Franks "made the right decision and came clean," US District Judge Robert Jonker said; the original sentencing guidelines being considered called for at least a 12-year term. Franks and his co-conspirators considered Whitmer a tyrant and wanted to put her on trial, prosecutors said. He apologized to the governor and her family in court Thursday, the AP reports. "I'm ashamed and embarrassed of my actions, and I regret every decision that I made," Franks said. Our original story from October 2020 follows:

"The allegations in this complaint are deeply disturbing," said the US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Here they are: that six people plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her northern Michigan vacation home with the intention of trying her for treason. The Detroit Free Press reports the men's pledge to "take violent action" against "certain government and law enforcement components" came to the FBI's attention early this year via social media. Per a sworn affidavit, the group's ideas ran from "taking" a sitting governor to "storm[ing]" the state's Capitol Building and leaving with hostages. The FBI said four of the men were scheduled to meet Wednesday to "make a payment on explosives and exchange tactical gear," per the AP.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta have been charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping; all are Michigan residents except for Croft, who is from Delaware. The Detroit News reports the criminal complaint unsealed Thursday in federal court alleges the men surveilled Whitmer's vacation home on two occasions and talked about taking her to Wisconsin for the "trial." At a June meeting in Ohio that an FBI source attended, Fox along with 13 others discussed "creating a society that followed the US Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient," per the FBI. Says US Attorney Matthew Schneider, "We owe our thanks to the men and women of law enforcement who uncovered this plot and have worked so hard to protect Gov. Whitmer." (The governor has come under fire for strict COVID rules.)

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