Suspect in Michigan governor kidnapping plot pleads guilty
One of the men accused of planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) pleaded guilty to conspiracy on Wednesday, agreeing to “fully cooperate” with authorities, according to a filed plea agreement.
Ty Garbin, 25, of Hartland Township, Mich., signed a plea agreement in which he admitted to planning to kidnap Whitmer at her vacation home and to wipe out a bridge to impede any police pursuing them, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Federal prosecutors submitted the plea deal ahead of Garbin’s scheduled appearance in court. The agreement, which did not include a deal on sentencing, signifies their plans to use his testimony to build their case against the others charged.
Garbin was one of six men charged in federal court with plotting to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home in Antrim County. State prosecutors charged eight others, arguing they assisted in planning the abduction.
The FBI announced in October that it had stopped a militia group from carrying out a plotted kidnapping of the Michigan governor, saying the suspects were upset with the coronavirus restrictions she instituted to prevent the virus from spreading.
In the plea agreement, Garbin confessed to training with the other suspects with weapons in Michigan and Wisconsin, saying they first “discussed the plan to storm the Capitol and kidnap the governor” before switching the target location to Whitmer’s vacation home.
The group had also trained at Garbin’s property where they developed a “shoot house” that looked like Whitmer’s vacation home, according to the plea agreement he signed.
He conceded to having “advocated waiting until after the national election, when the conspirators expected widespread civil unrest to make it easier for them to operate.” Garbin also said he sent a text message to a person who ended up being a government informant saying “if the bridge goes down it will stop the wave,” referring to police.
A trial for the case is scheduled for March 23. Garbin’s sentencing is scheduled for July 8. He faces up to life in prison.
Garbin’s attorney Mark Satawa previously had argued that Garbin did not actually intend to go through with the abduction, telling The Associated Press in October that his client’s comments like “I hate the governor” are “not illegal, even if you’re holding a gun and running around the woods when you do it.”
Whitmer’s was among the state coronavirus responses heavily scrutinized by conservatives and former President Trump, who instead advocated for businesses to reopen during the pandemic.
— Updated at 1:25 p.m.