• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

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Man gets 4 years for plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

A Michigan man who plotted with others to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday, federal prosecutors said.

Kaleb Franks, 28, is the second person sentenced in the plan to abduct Whitmer, a Democrat, which the government has said was orchestrated by anti-government extremists.

He pleaded guilty to kidnapping conspiracy in February and cooperated with prosecutors, testifying at a trial in August that resulted in the convictions of two men accused of being the ringleaders, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr.

Federal prosecutors said in court documents that the plan went beyond abducting the governor.

“The trial evidence, including Franks’ testimony, established that Croft and Fox actually intended to murder the Governor in order to trigger a civil war,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

The group Franks was involved with called itself the Wolverine Watchmen, styling itself as a militia group, according to court documents.

Franks’ attorney, Scott Graham, wrote in court documents that Franks “was a minor participant in all this” and that he was emotionally lost and looking for acceptance. His stepbrother, his second stepfather and his mother all died in the years before the plan, Graham wrote.

“Tragically, he followed the wrong people here. He did not lead them. He masterminded nothing,” Graham wrote in his sentencing memo.

Six people were indicted federally in the case: Four have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial, and a jury acquitted two, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.

Ty Garbin, the second man who pleaded guilty, cooperated with prosecutors and testified at trial and was ultimately sentenced to 2½ years in prison.

Garbin was initially sentenced in August 2021 to 75 months, or 6¼ years; the sentence was reduced later.

Fox and Croft have not been sentenced. Fox is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12, and Croft is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 28, according to court records.

The investigation began when an Army veteran, Dan Chappel, joined the Watchmen group in early 2020 but became alarmed by talk of killing police. He became an FBI informant in the case and was a key witness at trial.

Graham, Franks’ attorney, did not immediately reply to a request for comment Thursday night.

The Associated Press contributed.