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Ty Garbin pleads guilty, 'will fully cooperate' in Whitmer kidnapping conspiracy case

January 27, 2021
<p>Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference for a COVID-19 update on Nov. 19, 2020. Courtesy of Michigan Executive Office of the Governor.</p>

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference for a COVID-19 update on Nov. 19, 2020. Courtesy of Michigan Executive Office of the Governor.

Ty Garbin, from Hartland Township, pleaded guilty on Jan. 27 to plotting with several others to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. This is the first conviction in a high-profile case involving violent extremism in Michigan.

Garbin pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker in a Grand Rapids federal court. He will be sentenced on July 8. Garbin's kidnapping conspiracy charge is punishable by up to life in federal prison, according to a Detroit News report.

According to the plea deal obtained by the Detroit News, Garbin agreed to “fully cooperate” with the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s office, Michigan State Police and attorney general’s office in ongoing investigations in federal and state court. He will submit to polygraph tests and testify against the others charged in the kidnapping conspiracy.

The plea deal revealed conspirators practiced to abduct Whitmer and restrain her with a taser and zip ties. FBI agents say the conspiracy involved surveilling Whitmer's vacation home in northern Michigan and training with firearms and improvised explosive devices.

According to The Detroit News, Garbin was motivated to plead guilty after prosecutors revealed they possessed "hundreds of hours of undercover audio recordings, surveillance video, help from multiple informants — including fellow militia members — undercover FBI agents and more than 13,000 pages of encrypted text messages."

Garbin could have been charged with a weapons of mass destruction charge, influencing his decision to plead guilty, Mark Satawa, his lawyer, said.

According to the Detroit News, Satawa said "Garbin would have faced significantly higher sentencing guidelines under a weapons of mass destruction charge than the kidnapping conspiracy charge."

Prosecutors said Garbin met a fellow conspirator involved in the plot, Adam Fox of Potterville, at a Second Amendment rally outside the Michigan Capitol in June. He wanted to recruit 200 people to storm the Capitol, capture politicians, put them on trial for treason and hang them on live television. On Sept. 19, 2020, Fox told Garbin and other kidnap plotters he was preparing the basement of a vacuum cleaner supply shop near Grand Rapids for training the group to kidnap Whitmer. He said he had a taser and zip ties, “which would be good for ‘neutralizing’" Whitmer.

Garbin was arrested three months ago. He was ordered to stand trial along with five others of his co-conspirators two weeks ago. In state court, eight others are facing charges related to terrorism.

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