A Michigan man who conspired with others to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison, federal prosecutors said.
Kaleb Franks, 28, is the second person convicted in the plan to kidnap Democrat Whitmer, which the government said was orchestrated by anti-government extremists.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping in February and cooperated with prosecutors, and testified in August at the trial that resulted in the convictions of two men accused of being the ringleaders, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr.
Federal prosecutors said in court documents that the plan went beyond kidnapping the governor.
“The evidence, including Franks’ testimony, showed that Croft and Fox actually intended to kill the governor to spark a civil war,” the prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
The group Franks was involved in called themselves the Wolverine Watchmen, which labeled itself a militia group according to court documents.
Franks’ attorney, Scott Graham, wrote in court documents that Franks was “a small participant in it all,” and that he was emotionally lost and seeking acceptance. His stepbrother, second stepfather and mother all died in the years leading up to the plan, the lawyer wrote.
“Tragically, he was following the wrong people here. He did not lead them. He was the mastermind behind nothing,” Graham wrote in his sentencing memo.
Six people were charged federally in the case: four have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial, and two, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, were acquitted by a jury.
Ty Garbin, the second man to plead guilty, cooperate with prosecutors and testify at trial, was eventually sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Garbin was initially sentenced to 75 months or 6 1/4 years in August 2021, but was later reduced.
Fox and Croft were not convicted. According to the court, Fox will be sentenced on December 12 and Croft on December 28.
The investigation began when an Army veteran, Dan Chappel, joined the Watchmen group in early 2020 but was alarmed by rumors of police killings. He became an FBI informant on the case and was a key witness at the trial.
Graham, Franks’ attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday evening.
The Associated Press contributed.