A federal grand jury has charged a former Murray County sheriff's deputy with lying to state law enforcement agents and attempting to obstruct an investigation into the false arrest of a witness in a judicial ethics investigation.
Federal authorities on Wednesday unsealed a Jan. 3 indictment of former Deputy Joshua Greeson that stems from Greeson's arrest last summer of Murray County resident Angela Garmley. She was a key witness in an investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission of then-Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran.
Greeson arrested Garmley Aug. 14 on a felony drug charge, the night before Cochran resigned to end an ethics investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Garmley had publicly accused Cochran of attempting to trade favorable legal rulings for sex and was, according to the JQC director, its "principal informant" in the probe of Cochran.
Within a week of Garmley's arrest, the drug charge was dismissed on the recommendation of GBI agents who said they had determined that the illegal drugs Greeson found under Garmley's car had been planted. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation then launched a probe of the circumstances leading to Garmley's arrest.
The federal indictment accuses Greeson of lying to the GBI about information that federal prosecutors said he had been given concerning a police lookout for Garmley's vehicle. The indictment also charges the former deputy with destroying a record with the intent to obstruct the GBI investigation. Federal prosecutors said Greeson deleted information relevant to the GBI investigation from his cellphone.
Shortly after Garmley's charges were dismissed, Murray County Sheriff Howard Ensley fired Greeson and his supervisor, Capt. Michael Henderson. The sheriff told the Daily Report he fired the pair after the GBI informed him that both Greeson and Hendersonwho is the former magistrate judge's first cousinhad made false statements to GBI agents investigating Garmley's arrest.
The federal indictment charged only Greeson, but U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement Wednesday that the investigation is continuing.
On Wednesday morning, Greeson's lawyer, Edwin Marger of Jasper, said that Greeson "is innocent of doing anything wrong," and expressed surprise that neither Henderson nor Cochran had been indicted. He said Greeson was en route to Rome Wednesday morning to turn himself in to federal authorities and that he intended to enter a not guilty plea to the charges in U.S. District Court.
"My client was a very good, able and caring policeman who was following the orders of his superior officers and meant no harm to the government or to society as a whole," Marger said. "He's a good guy."