ROME, Ga. — A former Murray County sheriff's deputy who was indicted last week on felony obstruction claims he was duped into going along with a plan to plant drugs in former Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran's accuser's car.
While 25-year-old Joshua Greeson didn't put the magnetic box full of drugs under Angie Garmley's car this summer, prosecutors claim he helped hide the fact that the drugs were planted by lying about what he knew and deleting evidence from his phone.
Cochran, who resigned during a state ethics investigation, was accused of soliciting Garmley for sex in his chambers. These accusations, which he has denied, have led to a federal investigation, including investigating whether officers planted drugs on Garmley.
Prosecutors haven't revealed any more details about who is believed responsible for putting the drugs in Garmley's car. But Greeson, who spoke out after his arraignment Wednesday, said he was asked by his supervisor Capt. Michael Henderson to pull Garmley's car over and later was asked to lie to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about being asked to do so.
"It's a big mess, honestly that's what it is," Greeson said outside the federal court building. "I was just following orders."
Greeson said he first lied to the GBI, but then returned when he felt guilty and told the whole story.
Henderson, who was fired along with Greeson, is also Cochran's cousin. But his attorney, Larry Stagg, said his client didn't tell Greeson to lie to police.
"I can't get into too much detail," Stagg said. "But he's looking for a scapegoat at this point, and he chose Henderson to throw under the bus."
Garmley's attorney, McCracken Poston, tells a different story, saying his investigation shows Greeson was waiting in a driveway for Garmley to appear before pulling her over on Aug. 23. Poston said he also has discovered that several officers asked to help in Garmley's arrest, but Greeson complied out of fear.
"He was scared to death and didn't turn it down," Poston said.
Greeson admits he was afraid of Henderson, and he paints a picture of intimidation within the sheriff's office that kept him from speaking up.
"I'm not a felon. I've never done anything like this in my life," Greeson said as he began to cry.
The former deputy is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Jan. 23, and his attorney, Ed Marger, said he expects to go through with a trial. But either way, Marger said, Greeson is cooperating with the federal investigation.
The two charges of felony obstruction carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if he is convicted.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...