(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) — A second man charged in a bizarre plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pleaded guilty Wednesday and has agreed to testify for the prosecution at the federal trial of four other defendants.
Kaleb Franks, 27, of Waterford, Michigan, admitted in U.S. District in Grand Rapids that he and other members of the Wolverine Watchmen, a Michigan-based self-styled “militia” group, hatched the plot to abduct Whitmer at her summer home in 2020 because they were upset by the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The plot, which allegedly included plans to use semiautomatic assault-type weapons and to bomb a bridge near Whitmer’s vacation home, was foiled by undercover law enforcement officers who infiltrated the group.
“Did any law enforcement officers suggest kidnapping the governor?” U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip Green asked Franks during Wednesday’s hearing.
Franks replied, “No sir.”
Franks admitted in court that the kidnapping plan originated solely with him and the others charged in the conspiracy.
Lawyers for the other men facing trial in March filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing they were entrapped. The judge rejected that motion.
Franks’ guilty plea comes after another man charged in the case, Ty Garbin, 25, pleaded guilty last year to firearms charges and conspiracy charges of providing material support for terrorists. Garbin was sentenced in August to 75 months in prison.
Garbin is also expected to testify for the prosecution in the upcoming federal trial for Adam Fox, 40, Barry Croft Jr., 45, Daniel Harris, 24, and Brandon Caserta, 33. Eight other men face charges in state court stemming from the kidnap plot.
Franks admitted being deeply involved in the kidnap plot, participating in meetings and training sessions, and surveillance conducted on Whitmer’s vacation home in his signed plea agreement.
After the plot was thwarted, Whitmer alleged in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America that the plan included more than kidnaping her.
“This was a very serious thought-out plot to kill police officers, to bomb our capitol, killing Democrats and Republicans alike, and to kidnap and ultimately put me on trial and kill me as well,” Whitmer said on GMA. “These are the types of things you hear from groups like ISIS. This is not a militia; it is a domestic terror organization.”
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