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2nd Man Pleads Guilty In Alleged Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor

2nd Man Pleads Guilty In Alleged Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor

Prosecutors obtained a second conviction Wednesday in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, gaining another critical witness just weeks before four other men face trial.

Kaleb Franks pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He said he agreed to participate in an astonishing scheme to get the Democratic governor, who was targeted because of her restrictive policies during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. With his plea, Franks joined co-defendant Ty Garbin in admitting guilt and agreeing to help prosecutors at the March 8 trial. Franks faces a prison term, but his cooperation could lead to a lighter sentence in the months ahead.

MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 17: In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. The convention, which was once expected to draw 50,000 people to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is now taking place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Handout/DNCC via Getty Images)

Seven pages of the 19-page document signed by Franks offer a road map of the plot. It repeatedly mentions his work with the four remaining co-defendants, from firearms training in Wisconsin and Michigan to surveillance of Whitmer’s second home in northern Michigan. Those details are significant because they signal what Franks is willing to testify about when called as a trial witness. He would counter defense claims that the group was entrapped by undercover agents and informants.

Franks said he connected online with the Wolverine Watchmen, a self-styled militia group, in spring 2020, attended a protest and soon learned how to download an encrypted messaging app “to conceal discussion of illegal activity,” according to his plea agreement.

Whitmer pinned some blame on  Donald Trump, saying his refusal to denounce far-right groups had inspired extremists across the country. Trump had earlier urged supporters to “LIBERATE” Michigan and two other states led by Democratic governors from stay-at-home mandates.

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