Man in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot: No one twisted our arms

Mar 23, 2022, 8:49 PM | Updated: Mar 24, 2022, 8:56 pm

A second insider in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told jurors Thursday that the group was prepared to use a grenade launcher and machine gun to fight security officers at her vacation home.

Kaleb Franks, who pleaded guilty in February, backed up many points offered a day earlier by Ty Garbin, another man who admitted a role in a wild scheme to abduct Whitmer and somehow take her by boat out to Lake Michigan.

Franks, 27, said an alleged leader, Adam Fox, believed Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions were “tyrannical” and that the U.S. Constitution gave the men a right to strike back. He said no one was forced to stick with the plan and many people had dropped away by late summer 2020.

“I was going to be an operator,” Franks replied when asked by a prosecutor to describe his role in a kidnapping. “I would be one of the people on the front line, so to speak, using my gun.”

He said Fox talked about snatching the governor “every time I saw him.”

Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are on trial in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Along with Franks and Garbin, the four were arrested in October 2020, a month before the national election.

Garbin, 26, testified Wednesday that Whitmer’s kidnapping could serve as the “ignition” for a U.S. civil war involving antigovernment groups and possibly prevent the election of Joe Biden.

Authorities said the men were armed extremists who, after weeks of training, were trying to come up with $4,000 for an explosive. They practiced that summer by dashing in and out of crude structures built to resemble a house or office.

Traveling at night, they scouted Whitmer’s second home in Elk Rapids in September 2020 and inspected a bridge that could be blown up to frustrate any police response, according to trial testimony and conversations that were secretly recorded.

Croft “discussed attacking her security detail,” Franks told the jury. “He said he would use the grenade launcher that he had, and he was discussing mounting a machine gun on top of the truck.”

Franks, a drug rehabilitation coach, said he joined a militia, the Wolverine Watchmen, to work on his gun skills. He eventually met Fox and Croft, who were not members of the militia, and found himself in the middle of a conspiracy.

Franks said he stuck with the group because he hoped he would be killed in a shootout with police during the kidnapping but kept it from others.

“I no longer wanted to live,” he said, moments after settling into the witness chair. “A large portion of my family had died. I was struggling financially. Just wasn’t happy.”

Defense attorneys are trying to show the jury that there was no credible plot, just a lot of profane, violent and crazy talk about Whitmer and other politicians trampling their rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also claim informants and undercover agents who infiltrated the group entrapped the men.

During questioning by the defense, Garbin said there was discussion about taking Whitmer by boat to Lake Michigan after kidnapping her, then dumping the motor into the water and leaving her to drift.

But Garbin also acknowledged that the group didn’t have a boat lined up, and he wasn’t certain how they would get back to shore while the governor floated solo.

“The purpose of this was to be a massive inconvenience, right? Because she would just get picked up on the lake,” said Croft defense attorney Joshua Blanchard, referring to a rescue.

“At some point, yes,” Garbin replied.

Garbin, an airplane mechanic, began cooperating with prosecutors soon after the group was arrested. He was rewarded with a relatively light six-year prison sentence, a term that could be reduced after the trial. Franks hasn’t been sentenced yet but is also hoping for a break.

Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks publicly about the case, though she referred to “surprises” during her term that seem like “something out of fiction” when she filed for reelection on March 17.

She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case. Whitmer has said Trump was complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.


Find AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnap plot trial at:


White reported from Detroit.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Qatar's Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, right, shakes hands with Lebane...
Associated Press

Qatar replaces Russian company in Lebanon gas exploration

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon, two international oil giants and state-owned oil and gas company Qatar Energy signed an agreement Sunday that the Qatari firm will join a consortium that will search for gas in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon’s coast. The deal inked in Beirut brings Qatar into Lebanon’s gas exploration market three months after […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

France must raise pension age to 64, prime minister says

PARIS (AP) — France’s prime minister insisted Sunday that the government’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 is “no longer negotiable,” further angering parliamentary opponents and unions who plan new mass protests and disruptive strikes this week. Raising the pension age is one part of a broad bill that is the […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Australia mining company sorry for losing radioactive device

PERTH, Australia (AP) — A mining corporation on Sunday apologized for losing a highly radioactive capsule over a 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) stretch of Western Australia, as authorities combed parts of the road looking for the tiny but dangerous substance. The capsule was part of a device believed to have fallen off a truck while being transported […]
8 hours ago
FILE - The Chinese Embassy is pictured in Tokyo on Jan. 11, 2023. China announced it was resuming i...
Associated Press

China announces resumption of visas for Japanese

TOKYO (AP) — China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyo’s tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China. The decision was announced in a statement posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website. China stopped issuing new visas in Japan on […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Iran reports drone attack on defense facility

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s Defense Ministry says one of its factories was attacked by drones in the central city of Isfahan. A statement carried by the state-run IRNA news agency says the attack occurred late Saturday and caused minor damage to a rooftop. The report says three drones were shot down by […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

N. Carolina church says it lost nearly $800K in email scam

ELKIN, N.C. (AP) — Leaders of a northwestern North Carolina church say cybercriminals stole nearly $800,000 that the congregation spent years raising to build a new sanctuary that’s supposed to be completed in a few months. It happened in November when Elkin Valley Baptist Church received an email that mimicked another message from the sanctuary […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Man in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot: No one twisted our arms