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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Letterman suspect likely to change plea

Sarah Cooke Associated Press

HELENA – The man charged with plotting to kidnap the young son of talk show host David Letterman has reached a tentative plea agreement, the prosecutor in the case said Friday.

Teton County Attorney Joe Coble told the Associated Press that Kelly Frank is scheduled to appear Monday in state District Court in Conrad for a change-of-plea hearing.

Coble would not release details of the agreement but said it was reached Friday afternoon with Frank’s attorney, Jim Hunt, of Helena.

“We have a verbal agreement,” Coble said. “We have presented a written agreement to the defendant, and he has it over the weekend to consider before he signs it.”

Hunt did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Friday. However, court officials in Pondera County, where Frank is being held, confirmed his court appearance there Monday morning.

Tom Keaney, spokesman for Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, had not heard about the tentative agreement and said no one was available to comment Friday evening.

Frank, a painter on Letterman’s sprawling ranch near Choteau, was arrested in March and charged with felony solicitation and theft and a misdemeanor charge of obstruction after an acquaintance told authorities that Frank had talked of his plan to kidnap Letterman’s then 16-month-old son, Harry Joseph, and the boy’s nanny.

The acquaintance told authorities that Frank intended to hold the two for 48 hours on the belief he could extort $5 million ransom from Letterman.

Frank was scheduled to go on trial July 18.

The theft charge accuses Frank of overcharging Letterman for painting work. The misdemeanor obstruction charge was filed after authorities said Frank lied to an investigator questioning him about the kidnapping plot.

Frank earlier pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has been jailed since his arrest.

Frank previously pleaded guilty to stalking and intimidating a woman who alleges he also kidnapped and raped her. He was on probation in the stalking case, with a 10-year suspended prison sentence, at the time of his arrest in March.

Letterman’s son was named after the comedian’s late father, Harry Joseph Letterman. The mother is Letterman’s girlfriend, Regina Lasko.

Letterman bought the 2,700-acre Montana spread along the edge of the rugged Rocky Mountain Front in 1999.

The area is known for its pristine wildlife habitats and is home to wolves, eagles and grizzly bears. In September 2003, a black bear broke into Letterman’s home twice before being captured and relocated after returning a third time.

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