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Franks sentenced to 4-year prison term for role in Whitmer kidnapping plot

A four year prison sentence was handed down Thursday to Kaleb Franks, a former Brighton High School student, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.

Franks of Waterford, who will get credit for two years in custody, was given the relatively light sentence in exchange for his testimony against multiple codefendants at two previous trials.

Kaleb Franks
Kaleb Franks

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said Franks “made the right decision and came clean,” adding “That’s encouraging.”

Franks was charged in federal court along with five other anti-government extremists for plotting to kidnap Whitmer from her northern Michigan vacation home and then place her on trial for her actions to control COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic.

At his sentencing today in Grand Rapids, Franks apologized to Whitmer and her family.

“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.”

Franks, 28, attended Brighton High School in 2010 and 2011. He later studied clinical psychology at Washtenaw Community College.

Authorities say he was among the conspirators who scouted out Whitmer’s vacation home, where they planned to open fire on her security detail and then abduct her. Prosecutors say the group’s leaders intended to execute her and hopefully start a civil war.

In requesting leniency, prosecutors said Franks’ cooperation was critical as it corroborated testimony from another defendant, Ty Garbin of Hartland Township, who pleaded guilty a year earlier and was sentenced to just 2 1/2 years in prison.

After a first trial in which two defendants were acquitted, a second trial convicted two others on federal charges in the plot.

Franks’ sentencing took place the same day a Jackson County jury heard a second day of testimony in the trial of three members of the paramilitary group known as the Wolverine Watchmen.

Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar are not charged with directly participating in the plot but are accused of providing assistance.

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