published Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Former Murray County sheriff's official sentenced in corruption case

  • photo
    Former Chief Magistrate Bryant Cochran and Angela Garmley. Garmley's accusations against Cochran initiated a state investigation that led to the judge's resignation.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A former Murray County, Ga., sheriff's office captain is going to spend a year in jail.

U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy sentenced 41-year-old Michael Henderson to a year and a day behind bars on Wednesday for lying to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents about a local corruption case. Henderson is the second former employee of the sheriff's office to go to jail for trying to cover up the summer 2012 case.

The incident began in April 2012, when Angie Garmley visited Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran. She later complained that Cochran solicited her for sex, an allegation that launched a Judicial Qualifications Commission investigation and ultimately led to Cochran's resignation.

After Garmley filed the complaint, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Cochran gave Henderson a "tip" that Garmley kept drugs on her. Then, in August 2012, Henderson and Deputy Joshua Greeson stopped Garmley and found methamphetamine in a metal tin in the wheel well of her car.

Soon after, GBI investigators got a separate tip that someone had planted the drugs on Garmley. The drug charges were dropped, but during an interview with GBI agents, Henderson said he never told other officers that he got information about Garmley carrying drugs.

Henderson was fired, and on March 27 he pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness. Greeson, 26, also was fired and pleaded guilty to the same charges. He received a 10-month jail sentence.

"Mr. Henderson obstructed a public corruption investigation," Yates said in a release. "But, in addition to violating the law, Mr. Henderson also violated the trust given to him by Murray County's citizens."

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