Michigan Kidnap Plot Defendant Changes Plea to Guilty

By Ken Silva
Ken Silva
Ken Silva
Ken Silva covers national security issues for The Epoch Times. His reporting background also includes cybersecurity, crime and offshore finance – including three years as a reporter in the British Virgin Islands and two years in the Cayman Islands. Contact him at ken.silva@epochtimes.us
February 9, 2022 Updated: February 9, 2022

Kaleb Franks, one of the five defendants set to face trial next month for conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s governor, changed course and decided to plead guilty to the allegations in a Grand Rapids federal courtroom on Feb. 9.

Franks told Magistrate Judge Phillip Green that he understood the consequences of striking a plea deal with government and abandoning his co-defendants’ argument—that they had been entrapped into the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot by undercover FBI agents and informants.

“Did any law enforcement officers suggest committing any crimes?” Judge Green asked Franks.

“No, sir,” Franks replied.
“Did the plot originate solely with you and the other defendants?” the judge asked again.

“Yes, sir,” Franks said.

Judge Green said he will file a report with U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker—the trial judge in the case—recommending that he accept Franks’ guilty plea. Franks will then have a sentencing hearing in about three months, Green said.

As per his plea agreement with the Department of Justice, Franks is now set to testify against his co-defendants—Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta—at their March 8 trial.

Franks’ plea agreement provides a preview as to what he will presumably tell the jury: “The defendant was not entrapped or induced to commit any crimes by these individuals.

“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 … The defendant also heard Harris and Caserta express similar anti-government sentiments during his private discussions with them, when no government informant was present,” the plea agreement says.

“During all their months of training together, the defendant never heard Fox, Croft, Harris, or Caserta say they were doing anything because [Confidential Human Source] CHS Dan, CHS Steve, or any other informant had advocated it.”

Franks’ change of plea follows numerous failed objections filed by his attorney, Scott Graham, related to their entrapment defense.

Among those motions were attempts to have the case dismissed altogether; to have FBI agents and informants granted immunity to testify about their purported entrapment scheme, as well as to introduce evidence related to the presence of federal informants at the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Hill riots.

The defendants were also in a dispute with the DOJ over whether misconduct by FBI agents involved in the investigation would be used at trial. One FBI agent involved in the case was dismissed from the bureau for beating his wife, another agent has been accused of perjury in a separate case, and a third was pulled from testifying in the trial after it was revealed that he was operating a private intelligence business while investigating the defendants.

Jonker first slapped down the defendants’ motion for dismissal on Jan. 25, ruling that their entrapment argument should be litigated in front of a jury.

In separate orders a day later, Jonker also denied Franks’ motion to provide sovereign immunity to FBI informants and agents, and to introduce evidence about undercover informants present at the Capitol Hill riots.

On Feb. 1, Franks’ defense was further damaged when Judge Jonker granted the DOJ’s request for their own psychologist to evaluate him. Franks’ own psychologist had previously attested to his “presents extraordinary susceptibility to influence and suggestion” in support of his claim of entrapment, and the DOJ had sought to scrutinize that evaluation.

The final blow for Franks apparently came Feb. 2, when Judge Jonker sided with the DOJ in the dispute over whether FBI agents’ misconduct would be shown to the jury at trial.

Judge Jonker said an FBI agent assaulting his wife was irrelevant to the kidnapping case. He made a similar statement about the agent accused of perjury in another matter.

As for the FBI agent who operated a private intelligence business during the investigation, Judge Jonker said there was no conflict of interest in the arrangement.

Franks signed his plea deal four days later, according to court filings.

Ken Silva
Ken Silva covers national security issues for The Epoch Times. His reporting background also includes cybersecurity, crime and offshore finance – including three years as a reporter in the British Virgin Islands and two years in the Cayman Islands. Contact him at ken.silva@epochtimes.us