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Man arrested in Letterman kidnap plot

Authorities: TV host's child, housekeeper targeted
/ Source: The Associated Press

A painter working at David Letterman’s Montana ranch was charged Thursday with plotting to kidnap the talk-show host’s toddler son and nanny and hold them for $5 million ransom.

Kelly A. Frank, 43, was being held on a felony charge of solicitation, among others.

Montana Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sally Hilander said the plot was uncovered when someone Frank had approached about the plan informed local police.

In a statement issued by the publicist for Letterman’s production company, World Wide Pants, Letterman and his girlfriend, Regina Lasko, thanked the FBI and local authorities for their work unraveling the plot.

“We will be forever grateful for their tireless efforts and determination to vigorously pursue this situation,” the couple said in the statement.

Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for World Wide Pants, said he could not comment on whether Letterman’s family was in Montana at the time of Frank’s arrest.

The host of CBS’s “Late Show” taped three programs earlier this week, but the network’s coverage of the men’s college basketball tournament pre-empted his Thursday and Friday shows.

Mike Ferriter of the state Department of Corrections said Frank had been working as a painter at Letterman’s ranch west of Choteau in north-central Montana and apparently confided in an acquaintance earlier this month of his plan to kidnap Letterman’s son and nanny for ransom.

Suspect had key to houseAccording to the affidavit filed by Teton County Attorney Joe Coble, Frank had told the acquaintance that he knew Letterman and his family would be visiting their Montana home soon, and that Frank had a key to the house, knew where the baby slept and intended to kidnap the nanny “so that she could take care of the child.”

The acquaintance contacted authorities Sunday, according to the affidavit. Sheriff George Anderson told the weekly Choteau Acantha newspaper that Frank was arrested the following morning at another area ranch where he was working. Anderson did not return phone calls to The Associated Press seeking comment.

In addition to the solicitation charge, Frank also is charged with felony theft for allegedly overcharging Letterman for painting, and a misdemeanor charge of obstruction for lying to an investigator who first contacted him about the alleged plot.

He’s jailed in neighboring Pondera County on $600,000 bail. It was not immediately clear whether Frank had an attorney. The Acantha said he did not have a lawyer present when he appeared in court Thursday.

Lasko gave birth to the couple’s son on Nov. 3, 2003. The boy, Letterman’s first child, was named after the comedian’s late father, Harry Joseph Letterman.

Letterman bought the 2,700-acre Montana spread along the edge of the rugged Rocky Mountain Front in 1999. In 2003, a black bear broke into Letterman’s home twice, then was captured and relocated after returning a third time.

For years, Letterman was targeted by a stalker who called herself “Mrs. David Letterman” and broke into his Connecticut house at least seven times.

Margaret Ray eventually pleaded guilty to breaking and entering. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she served 10 months in prison and 14 months in a mental institution. In 1998, she committed suicide at age 46 by kneeling in front of a train.