published Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Ex-deputy pleads guilty to lying to investigators

ROME, Ga. — Federal prosecutors say former Murray County sheriff's deputy Joshua Greeson received a call from former Magistrate Bryant Cochran days before Greeson arrested a woman who accused the judge of soliciting her for sex.

During a plea hearing for Greeson on Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffery Davis said cellphone records show Cochran called Greeson five days before the deputy arrested Angie Garmley in August after finding a magnetic can filled with methamphetamine in the wheel well of her car during a traffic stop.

Garmley had accused the judge of sexual misconduct, which led to an ethics investigation. Cochran resigned the day after Garmley was arrested as a result of the ethics inquiry.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation later said the drugs had been planted, and charges against Garmley were dropped. Authorities have not said who planted the drugs.

Greeson pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Rome, Ga., to one count of aiding and abetting the obstruction of justice for lying to GBI agents about Garmley's arrest.

Prosecutors said that on Aug. 23, 2012, Greeson told GBI agents he had not been told to look for Garmley's car before he pulled her over. But four days later, he told agents his former supervisor, Capt. Michael Henderson, who is Cochran's cousin, had told him to be on the lookout for the car and that it was carrying drugs.

Henderson previously pleaded guilty to charges related to the case.

Cooperation with prosecutors

As a result of the plea agreement, Greeson agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating Cochran.

Greeson declined to comment after the hearing Friday, but his attorney, Edwin Marger, said his client did not recall details about his phone conversation with Cochran.

"We don't know what that conversation was. We just know it happened," Marger said.

Despite his memory loss, Marger said, Greeson was cooperating completely with investigators.

"The one thing Mr. Greeson knows is that it is in his best interest to tell the truth," Marger said.

Marger said he anticipates Greeson will get credit for "significantly aiding" prosecutors in their investigation into Cochran, which may result in Greeson's receiving a much-reduced sentence.

McCracken Poston, an attorney for Garmley and other plaintiffs in a separate civil suit against Cochran, said his clients were pleased to see Greeson was playing ball with prosecutors.

"We are glad to see the progress, and we are very interested to hear today of the direct call [from Cochran] to Greeson," Poston said.

He called Garmley's arrest a "pretty sinister and ingenious plan that fortunately fell apart."

Greeson will return for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. on June 28. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although prosecutors have agreed to recommend a lighter sentence.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at 423-757-6481 or lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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