Defendant in Plot to Kidnap Governor Gets Prison

Judge goes light after prosecutors praise Ty Garbin's cooperation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2021 6:30 PM CDT
Defendant in Plot to Kidnap Governor Gets Prison
Ty Garbin, shown in a sheriff's photo, apologized to Michigan's governor and her family.   (Kent County Sheriff via AP File)

The only defendant to admit plotting to kidnap Michigan's governor last year was sentenced to prison on Wednesday. Ty Garbin, 25, was given a prison term of six years, three months in federal court in Grand Rapids, the New York Times reports. Prosecutors said Garbin was driven by anger at the Democratic governor's coronavirus restrictions and cuts to his pay. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wasn't in the courtroom, but Garbin apologized to her anyway. "I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of stress and fear her family felt because of my actions," he said. "And for that I am truly sorry." Whitmer had filed a victim impact statement in which she said that she still receives threats and that "things will never be the same."

"I have looked out my windows and seen large groups of heavily armed people within 30 yards of my home," the governor said, per the AP. "I have seen myself hung in effigy." Garbin cooperated with investigators, and prosecutors asked the judge to keep that in mind. One of them said Garbin "didn't hold back," adding, "He would come out and say, 'We planned to do this and I was knowingly a part of it.' He sat for hours answering all of our questions." Based on his testimony, federal charges were added to the cases against three other men. Sentencing guidelines called for 14 to 17 years in prison, prosecutors recommended nine, and Garbin's lawyers asked for six, per the Detroit News.

In all, there are 14 other defendants, many of them members of a Michigan antigovernment paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen. Six of them will stand trial together in October, while eight who are charged with helping them will be tried in two state courts. Garbin's attorney told the judge that his client "is going to be a star witness" in the other trials. Garbin, an airplane mechanic, had no criminal record before this. He said in his plea agreement that the six defendants had trained for the kidnapping on his property near Luther, Michigan. They built a "shoot house" designed to resemble Whitmer's vacation home and practiced "assaulting it with firearms," Garbin said. (Read more Gretchen Whitmer stories.)

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