2nd Man Convicted in Whitmer Plot Gets 4 Years in Prison

A man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s governor in 2020 was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday.

Kaleb Franks was rewarded for testifying for prosecutors at two trials and he will get credit for the two years already spent in custody. But his sentence was longer than the term given to another man who had quickly cooperated and pleaded guilty much earlier.

Franks was among six anti-government extremists who were charged in federal court with conspiracy and other crimes. Investigators said the group’s goal was to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and incite a U.S. civil war — the “boogaloo” — before the 2020 presidential election.

“I would like to start by saying I’m sorry to the governor and her family,” Franks told U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“I understand that this experience had to have been very traumatizing and difficult,” he said. “I’m ashamed and embarrassed of my actions, and I regret every decision that I made.”

The group considered Whitmer, a Democrat, and other elected officials to be tyrants who were infringing on constitutional rights, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses were shut down, people were told to stay home and schools were closed.

Franks, 28, participated in a key step in the conspiracy: a ride on a rainy night to scout Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. She was not there at the time.

He testified that he had hoped to be killed by police if a kidnapping could be pulled off at some point. The FBI, however, had undercover agents and informants inside the group.

“I was going to be an operator,” Franks said last spring. “I would be one of the people on the front line, so to speak, using my gun.”

Prosecutors said Franks’ cooperation was important because it backed up critical testimony from Ty Garbin, who pleaded guilty a year earlier and was sentenced to just 2 1/2 years in prison.

Two men described as leaders of the conspiracy, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were convicted in August. Two other men, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, were acquitted in April.

Meanwhile, 120 miles (190 kilometers) away in Jackson, Michigan, a jury heard a second day of testimony Thursday in the trial of three members of a paramilitary group who were also arrested in 2020. Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar are not charged with directly participating in the kidnapping plot but are accused of assisting Fox and others.