Local News

June 15, 2013

Man pleads guilty to planting drugs in Murray case

A Dalton man pleaded guilty in federal court in Rome on Friday to planting drugs on the car of a Murray County woman who had accused a magistrate judge of making sexual overtures in exchange for a favorable ruling on a case.

Clifford J. Joyce, 27, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 23 at 1:30 p.m. Joyce could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Joyce admitted planting meth on the car of Angela Garmley, who had filed a complaint against then-chief magistrate judge Bryant Cochran accusing him of soliciting her sexually when she tried to obtain warrants against individuals she said attacked her. The U.S. attorney’s office said in a press release that Joyce hid a metal tin under the tire well of the car that contained five small packets of meth.

Garmley was charged Aug. 14, 2012, by the Murray County Sheriff’s Office with possession of meth after an officer discovered the tin during a traffic stop. A man who was driving Garmley home in her car at the time was also charged with possession of meth. But District Attorney Bert Poston dropped those charges less than two weeks later, citing information developed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Garmley’s attorney McCracken Poston (no relation to the district attorney) said on Friday his client felt vindicated.

“Although her charges were dropped, this was the first official declaration that someone planted those drugs,” Poston said.

Federal prosecutors say Joyce, who was at that time a tenant of Cochran’s, and others conspired to plant drugs on Garmley in an attempt to discredit her. McCracken Poston said Cochran was part of that effort to discredit Garmley.

“C.J. was just the low man on the totem pole,” he said.

Joyce’s attorney could not be reached for comment, and no one answered the phone Friday evening at a number listed for a Clifford J. Joyce in Dalton.

Cochran’s attorney, Page Pate, said on Friday that Cochran had no role in planting drugs on Garmley’s car.

“I can tell you without equivocation that Judge Cochran had no knowledge of what he (Joyce) did and did not direct him to do that and had no involvement whatsoever,” Pate said.

Joyce is the third person to plead guilty in federal court in relation to the Garmley case.

Joshua Lamar Greeson, the Murray County deputy who stopped Garmley’s car, pleaded guilty in April to false statements. He had been fired in 2012 for lying during the investigation.

Greeson’s supervisor, former sheriff’s captain Michael Henderson, pleaded guilty in March to obstruction. Henderson, a cousin of Cochran’s, had also been fired in 2012 for lying to investigators.

Both Greeson and Henderson are awaiting sentencing.

Cochran resigned from office the day before Garmley was arrested. He admitted he had pre-signed 12 warrants but denied issuing them. He denied Garmley’s claims that he had solicited her.


Text Only
Local News
  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014

  • Two charged with tampering with evidence in drug investigation

    Two people have been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the synthetic marijuana bust in February involving a Dalton business owner.

    July 30, 2014

  • Beaulieu to close operations for one week for inventory

    Floorcovering giant Beaulieu of America will conduct a physical inventory of its buildings and facilities next week, with only salaried employees reporting for work.

    July 30, 2014

  • Green spot closing 1 mlh.jpg A part of the family

    Larry Green can’t remember the exact date. But he says it was about 54 years ago when his father Marvin took him to see the new store he and his brother Herman had commissioned Red Jennings to build at 309 W. Emery St. in Dalton.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • New high school?

    The only means for “staying small” and preserving “The Dalton Way” in Dalton Public Schools may be through expansion, Superintendent Jim Hawkins said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bond denied for man arrested in synthetic marijuana bust

    A Dalton business owner charged in a synthetic marijuana bust was denied bond Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014