Murray County

April 12, 2013

Former Murray sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty to false statements (Updated 7:05 p.m.)

ROME — A second former Murray County law enforcement officer has pleaded guilty to obstructing a civil rights investigation connected to a former Murray County judge.

Joshua Lamar Greeson, a former sheriff’s office deputy fired for lying during the investigation, entered a negotiated guilty plea in federal court here Friday afternoon to making false statements. His sentencing date is June 28 at 1:30 p.m.

At that time, the U.S. attorney’s office is expected to recommend dismissal of a second charge related to removing information from his cellphone. Greeson could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, probation for up to three years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Greeson’s supervisor, fired sheriff’s office captain Michael Henderson, pleaded guilty to obstruction a few weeks ago. He’s scheduled for sentencing on May 31 at 1:30 p.m. and faces up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

Greeson initially pleaded not guilty, admitting he lied but saying he did so only because Henderson ordered him to. Then he and defense attorney Ed Marger learned they wouldn’t be able to successfully use that as a defense.

“Nothing has changed as to what happened,” Marger said. “In this case, the fact that he listened to his supervisor was not a defense.”

During the hearing before Judge Harold Murphy, Greeson, Marger and U.S. attorneys prosecuting Greeson agreed evidence exists to show former Murray County chief magistrate Bryant Cochran told “several police officers” including Greeson to be on the lookout for Angela Garmley’s vehicle because it was believed to be carrying drugs. Garmley had recently accused Cochran of sexually soliciting her in exchange for a favorable ruling on a case — a charge Cochran has denied. Her arrest came a day before Cochran resigned for an unrelated ethics reason.

Greeson has said he stopped the vehicle Garmley was riding in and arrested her and driver Jason Southern after finding a magnetized container of meth under the vehicle. The local district attorney’s office dismissed their charges only a few days later after investigators said someone planted the meth. Accusations surfaced that Cochran had ordered Henderson, who is his cousin, to make the arrest. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) opened an inquiry into what happened.

Greeson said he lied to a judge and to GBI investigators at first because Henderson told him to, maintaining he didn’t know anything about the vehicle before that night. Then he went back a few days later and admitted Henderson had told him to watch for it, he said. Then-sheriff Howard Ensley fired Henderson and Greeson for lying.

Page Pate, Cochran’s attorney, said it’s true that Cochran called Greeson and other law enforcement officers about Garmley having drugs, but it wasn’t because of any conspiracy to discredit her after the sexual allegations as her attorney has suggested.

“Mr. Cochran has never denied telling Josh Greeson as well as captain Henderson that he had information that he considered to be reliable that Mrs. Garmley was involved in the drug trade and may very well be carrying drugs in the vehicle,” Pate said. “It’s a big leap to go from saying that to saying he made a false arrest.”

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Murray County