Guy Who Wanted To Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Over COVID Orders Scared Of Getting COVID In Jail

Right Wing Extremism

In early October, Kaleb Franks was one of several "Wolverine Watchmen" militia members arrested for plotting to "Liberate Michigan" by kidnapping Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It was one of several planned governor-nappings thwarted last month, because apparently it is just a widely held belief among Republicans that if you kidnap the governor of your state, all of the COVID-19 restrictions they put into place become null and void. Especially if you declare yourself the Governor of Ohio before doing so. Then it's really official.

Franks, a 26-year-old former heroin addict who went by the moniker "Red Hot" in online chats with the rest of the alleged attempted kidnappers, was denied bond last month due to his previous convictions for cocaine and home invasion.

US Magistrate Judge Salley Berens said at the time that Franks posed a danger to the community and denied him bond based on his participation in staking out Whitmer's home; his statements that he was "in for anything as long as it's planned"; and his participation in procuring illegal and untraceable firearms. Franks was one of the men who thought he was going to pick up explosives and tactical gear only to find themselves arrested by the FBI in a sting operation.

But last week, Franks's lawyer filed court documents arguing he should be let out of jail because he's not a real threat and "has diabetes and high cholesterol, takes insulin daily and fears contracting COVID-19 in jail."


To be clear — this guy and his friends were going to kidnap the Governor of Michigan because they were mad about the COVID-19-related restrictions she was enacting. They were so mad at Whitmer for trying to keep people from getting COVID-19 that they were plotting to go to her vacation house and kidnap her, a thing they had to know was a crime. And now this guy wants to not be in jail because he has underlying conditions and is afraid he will get COVID-19.

Scott Graham, Franks's attorney, also argued that he is not a flight risk because he owns his own house, had a good job and lives with people who support him. These things, of course, did not prevent him from planning to kidnap the governor of Michigan.

Graham also argued that Franks should be let out because of how he is a former heroin addict who turned his life around and is now a guy who doesn't do heroin, despite how he is accused of plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan.

Graham is hoping to change the judge's mind about bond, citing the following details about Frank's life that he believes weigh in favor of releasing him: He owns his own house in Waterford; had a good job at Meridian Health Systems helping drug and alcohol addicts before his arrest; lives with his fiancée and her mother, both with clean records, and has the support of his family.

Perhaps most noteworthy, his lawyer argued, is Frank's turnaround story.

"Mr. Franks has been sober since he went to jail in 2013. Using his own past experiences as background, he had turned to helping others struggling with addiction. He represents the ideal of a once-drug-offender turning his life around," Graham writes in court documents.

Is he saying that going from heroin addict to militia guy plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan is a positive trajectory? I feel like it is not! I've known some very nice heroin addicts in my day, but not a lot of pleasant militia guy kidnappers. Or any, because I try to avoid being murdered, just as a general rule.

Graham's other gambit is claiming the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer was too stupid and unworkable to really be a crime.

Franks' lawyer has scoffed at all those allegations, calling the kidnap plot "outlandish and absurd."

"There has been talk of a plan to set her adrift in a boat in Lake Michigan. Of course, there is no evidence describing how this would occur," Graham writes. "Allegations have been made that the conspirators planned to take the governor to Wisconsin and put her on trial. Again, there is no evidence about how they planned to transport her to Wisconsin, through what would have surely been the most extensive manhunt in the history of the state."

Graham also sought to refute prosecutors' claims that Franks was involved in manufacturing two "ghost guns" — or unregistered handguns — and that this suggested that Franks could obtain firearms if out on bond.

"But the facts show that Mr. Franks did not do any work to make a firearm. He did not have the tools or experience to do so," Graham writes, arguing Franks will not have access to any guns if he is released on bond.

If you had to be really good at crime in order for it to count as a crime, I imagine our prisons wouldn't be as full as they are.

So far, only two of the 14 men arrested in the plot have been let out on bond, including 42-year-old Pete Musico, who was reportedly kicked out of the group for being "too soft."

There are many lessons to be learned here, but probably the main one is that if you have the kind of underlying conditions that would make it less likely for you to survive a COVID-19 infection, you should probably avoid trying to kidnap the governor of Michigan for enacting regulations meant to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, because then you will end up in jail where contracting COVID-19 from another inmate is both possible and likely.

[Detroit Free Press]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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