by: Richard Elliot Updated:
MURRAY COUNTY, Ga. - A former Murray County deputy will have to spend a year in jail for lying to state and federal investigators about his part in a complicated case involving the planting of illegal drugs in an innocent woman's car.
Former Capt. Michael Henderson pleaded guilty to lying to GBI and FBI agents as they investigated accusations against former Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran. Cochran has not been charged.
Angela Garmley claimed Cochran tried to exchange sex for a favorable court ruling back in August 2012. When she refused and reported the incident to Georgia's Judicial Qualifications Commission, investigators said someone planted illegal drugs in her car. Henderson and another deputy later admitted Cochran called them and advised them Garmley may have drugs in her car. When they stopped her, they said they found the drugs and arrested her and one other person in the car. Those charges were later dropped.
When the GBI investigated the case, agents said Henderson and another deputy lied about getting the call from Cochran.
In court Wednesday, Henderson, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, apologized for his actions.
"I take full
responsibility for my actions," Henderson told the judge. "I want to apologize to everyone involved for what I did."
U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy was unmoved by the apology. Rejecting the prosecution's request for an eight-month sentence, Murphy imposed a harsher year-long sentence.
"He violated every oath he took," said Murphy. "He damaged his career. He damaged respect for law enforcement in Murray County. I cannot responsibly impose a sentence that does not hurt to some extent. I do it with regret but from necessity."
Henderson will begin his prison sentence in January. He declined to say anything as he left the courthouse.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffery Davis said the sentence was just and that the investigation into the matter continues.
Garmley and her attorney McCracken Poston attended the sentencing.
"The judge was very eloquent and, I think, very appropriate in stating the tragedy in all this," said Poston. "I'm happy to hear the investigation goes forward."