A man charged in an alleged conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has agreed to plead guilty, according to documents filed Monday, giving prosecutors another insider who could be a key witness in the trial.
Caleb Franks said he would join Ty Garbin in pleading guilty to a plan to kidnap a Democrat, sometime contender to be Joe Biden’s running mate, before FBI agents arrested six people in October 2020.
The decision leaves the four men to face trial.
The government says the group wanted to kidnap Whitmer out of hatred for her COVID-19 restrictions.
Franks signed a document agreeing to plead guilty, acknowledging that he was “not implicated or abetted to commit any crime” by undercover agents or informers.
Garbin pleaded guilty in 2021 and was sentenced to a little more than six years in prison.
Franks admitted that he was deeply involved in the conspiracy, which included training with firearms in Wisconsin and Michigan, and a search of Whitmer’s second home in northern Michigan.
In August 2020, less than two months from his arrest, Franks said that he and a co-defendant had “discussed their frustration with those who advocated anti-government action, but themselves used force.” were not inclined to use”.
The plea deal shows that Franks, like Garbin, can testify against the remaining defendants at the March 8 trial in Grand Rapids. While there is no consensus on the length of his sentence, Franks could be rewarded if he “materially and substantially assists” the government.
A message seeking comment from Franks’ attorney was not immediately returned.
The decision to convict by the Franks followed decisions in favor of the government. U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said he would not allow the defense to use more than 250 out-of-court statements to attempt to bolster an implied argument. He said the remarks would be rumours, unless the men were cross-examined.
Evidence includes hours of secretly recorded conversations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler recently quoted Adam Fox as saying to an informant: “I want the governor to be hog-tie, lying on a table, while we all pose like we’ve seen the world’s biggest Drug busted”.
In addition to Fox, who is described as a gangster, the remaining defendants are Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.
When a kidnapping case was filed in 2020, it raised the heat even further in the final weeks of the election. Whitmer put some of the blame on hen President Donald Trump, saying his refusal to condemn far-right groups inspired extremists across the country.
Trump had previously urged supporters to “liberate” Michigan and two other states from mandates to remain led by Democratic governors.