Former Murray County Sheriff's Office Capt. Michael Henderson pleaded guilty in federal court today for his role in setting up for arrest a woman who had complained about sexual advances by a local judge, authorities said.
Henderson pleaded guilty to obstructing a pending civil rights investigation by tampering with a witness, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
The case involved drugs planted in the car of Angie Garmley, who had complained that Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran solicited her for sex.
Her complaint sparked a state Judicial Qualification Commission investigation and led to Cochran's resignation. The investigation also revealed that Cochran was illegally presigning warrants for officers to use.
Henderson and Murray County Deputy Josh Greeson were fired in August after an investigation began into Garmley's arrest. Investigators later found that someone had planted the methamphetamine in Garmley's car.
"Mr. Henderson violated both the law and the public's trust when he lied to his fellow law enforcement officers and obstructed a civil rights investigation," Yates said in the release. "Bottom line, the citizens of Murray County at minimum deserve police officers who obey the laws that they have sworn to enforce."
According to the release, Henderson told Murray County deputies in July 2012 that a white Dodge was being used to carry drugs.
Greeson stopped the car Aug. 14, found methamphetamine in a metal can hidden in a wheel well and arrested Garmley.
Shortly thereafter, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation received information that the drugs had been planted by someone else, and the drug charge against Garmley was dismissed.
Henderson lied in a subsequent interview with the GBI, saying he had not told deputies about a white Dodge allegedly carrying drugs, according to the release.
Henderson, 41, of Murray County, Ga. could receive up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence will be based on federal guidelines.
Sentencing is scheduled for 1:3o p.m. May 31 before United States District Judge Harold L. Murphy.