Another Michigan man charged with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) decided to enter into a cooperation deal with the government, telling prosecutors that he and his accused co-conspirators were “not entrapped” by law enforcement to commit federal crimes.
Wolverine Watchmen militia member Kaleb Franks’s guilty plea to a kidnapping conspiracy charge falls a little more than a year after federal prosecutors secured a similar admission from Ty Garbin, who was ultimately sentenced to more than six years in prison.
In late 2020, six men were charged in a conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer. Three of the men, Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., and Daniel Joseph Harris, were later hit with weapons of mass destruction charges over an alleged plan to detonate a bomb under a bridge near Whitmer’s vacation home to distract authorities. The superseding indictment pointedly accused all of the men of engaging in “domestic terrorism.”
The sixth defendant, Brandon Caserta, was said to have been a member of the anti-government militia group known as the Wolverine Watchmen, along with Franks and Harris.
In recent months, the remaining defendants have argued that an FBI confidential human source entrapped them by having “conceived and controlled every aspect of the alleged plot,” but Franks’s plea agreement disavows and undermines this defense.
“The defendant was not entrapped or induced to commit any crimes by these individuals,” Franks wrote in a signed, 19-page agreement. “The defendant also knows Fox, Croft, Harris and Caserta were not entrapped, based on personal observation and discussions. For instance, Fox proposed assaulting the Capitol the first time the defendant met him, which was also the first time Fox met CHS Dan.”
“Dan” and “Steve” are the names of the FBI confidential human sources vilified by the defense team.
“The defendant frequently heard Fox and Croft initiate conversations about fighting government authority and kidnapping the Governor without prompting,” Franks’s plea agreement states. “The defendant also heard Harris and Caserta express similar anti-government sentiments during his private discussions with them, when no government informant was present.”
Though Franks was not charged with the weapons of mass destruction conspiracy, his plea agreement implicates his co-defendants in it.
“Fox told the other defendants they had found a place to put explosives under a bridge near the Governor’s house and asked the group to contribute $4,000 to purchase them,” the agreement states. “Croft said they could use the 37-millimeter projectile launcher on his assault rifle to take out the lead vehicle in the Governor’s protective detail. Croft also said if they used IEDs to ambush the Governor’s convoy, they wouldn’t need to blow up the bridge.”
The agreement, which must still be accepted by the judge, stipulates that Franks will “fully cooperate” with state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors.
“The defendant’s cooperation will consist of all steps needed to uncover and prosecute such crimes, including, but not limited to, providing investigators with a full, complete and truthful statement concerning his knowledge of any and all criminal activity of which he is aware; truthfully answering investigators’ questions; meeting with prosecutors before testifying; truthfully testifying before grand juries and in any court proceedings; and providing all relevant tangible evidence in his possession or under his control, including, but not limited to, objects, documents, and photographs,” the agreement states.
This cooperation could earn Franks leniency on a count that had the potential penalty of life imprisonment.
Trial for the remaining defendants is scheduled to begin on March 8.
Read the plea agreement, below:
[Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.]
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