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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 08:44 GMT
Man denies Letterman kidnap plot
David Letterman
Late Show host Letterman earns an estimated $40m a year
A man has pleaded not guilty to plotting to kidnap US talk show host David Letterman's son and nanny and hold them for $5m (2.65m) ransom.

Kelly Frank, 43, a painter working at Mr Letterman's Montana ranch, was arrested last week and appeared in court in Choteau on Tuesday.

He had a key to Letterman's house and knew where 16-month-old Harry slept.

He was apprehended after discussing a kidnap with a friend - but said it was a "light-hearted conversation".

Mr Frank, who was painting the ranch buildings, faces charges of solicitation, theft and obstructing a police officer. He could be jailed for at least 10 years if convicted.

Kelly Frank mugshot
Kelly Frank had been hired to paint the buildings on Letterman's ranch
An acquaintance told investigators Mr Frank talked about kidnapping the baby and nanny for 48 hours, in an attempt to get ransom money.

Mr Frank's lawyer said his client admitted "there were discussions about it, but with no purpose of carrying it out".

Court records also showed Mr Frank said he had a key and knew where the boy's bedroom was.

His fiancee said the acquaintance was an estranged childhood friend who had a "personal vendetta" against Mr Frank following a fight at work.

The handyman was held in custody until his next court appearance on 5 April.

Mr Letterman, who hosts the nightly Late Show on CBS, is the second highest-paid US TV host, according to Forbes magazine, with estimated earnings of $40m (21m) a year.

Harry Joseph is his first child, with girlfriend Regina Lasko.

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