Two Murray County, Georgia police officers and a Dalton resident have been convicted of framing false drug possession and witness tampering. The men were all reportedly involved in an elaborate scheme to frame and discredit a woman who accused Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran of making inappropriate sexual advances towards her.
The incident started in July of 2012 when Murray County resident Angela Garmley held a legal meeting with Judge Cochran. Garmley alleged that Cochran made unwanted and aggressive sexual advances towards her during the meeting. She reported the advances to authorities.
Weeks later, on August 12, 2012, Cochran’s handyman and two Murray County police officers attempted to frame Garmley for methamphetamine possession. The scheme was supposedly set up at Cochran’s direction.
In order to frame Garmley, Cochran’s tenant and handyman Clifford Joyce planted a small metal box containing methamphetamine bags inside a wheel well on the woman’s car. Two days later, Murray County Deputy Sheriff Joshua Greeson purposefully pulled over Garmley to search her car for drugs. Of course, he found the methamphetamine bags. He was told exactly where they would be by Murray County Police Captain Michael Henderson.
Murray County prosecutors immediately filed narcotics possession charges against Garmley. But her attorney fired back and said his client had been set up by authorities in order to discredit her sexual advance claim against Judge Cochran. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation looked into the incident and, on August 24, 2012, dropped all charges against Garmley.
Both law enforcement officers were convicted of witness tampering and Joyce was convicted of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. Joyce will now spend the next one and a half years in prison. United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates spoke on the prison sentencing today.
“By planting drugs on an innocent woman’s car, Mr. Joyce attempted to use the criminal justice system to serve his own personal agenda,” Yates said. “In the end, however, it is Mr. Joyce, and not the Murray County woman, who will be headed to prison.”
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan released a statement of his own. Here is an excerpt from it:
“Vindicating an innocent person is as important as convicting the guilty. The GBI will continue to work with our federal law enforcement counterparts to ensure criminal cases are thoroughly investigated so the innocent remain free and the guilty are held accountable.”