Ty Garbin, 25, signed an agreement pleading guilty in federal court in Michigan to the sole charge against him – kidnapping conspiracy.
According to the agreement, Garbin will continue to cooperate with prosecutors against the five other defendants, all of whom have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping conspiracy.
In exchange, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence lesser than the maximum carried by the charge, which would have been life in prison.
Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker accepted the plea Wednesday. Garbin’s sentencing is scheduled for July 8.
The five other federal defendants are awaiting trial after being arrested in October, when authorities say the plot was thwarted.
The indictment alleged that between June 6 and October 7 the men conspired to “unlawfully seize, kidnap, abduct and carry away, and hold for ransom and reward” Whitmer, who is a Democrat. Authorities have said the men were planning to kidnap the governor from a vacation home and blow up a bridge to delay law enforcement, but they were arrested first.
In addition to the six charged in federal court, eight other people were charged in the case by the state in October.
As first reported by The Detroit News, the FBI became aware of the scheme in early 2020 through a social media group, according to the federal criminal complaint.
The case underscored the political tensions in Michigan that reached new heights as Whitmer faced backlash for restrictions she imposed earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Observers have pointed to then-President Donald Trump’s rhetoric toward the governor and her state, including a tweet in which he called on residents to “liberate” Michigan from the restrictions.
As part of the plea agreement, the government may call on Garbin to testify against the other five federal defendants during a trial set for March 23. Garbin has already cooperated with the government in sharing information about the plot, according to the agreement.
CNN’s Devan Cole, Sonia Moghe and Jason Hanna contribtued to this report.