Ex Murray Magistrate Gets Jail Time for Conspiracy Against Angela Garmley

Rome, GA (WDEF) – Bryant Cochran, a former Chief Magistrate in Murray County, is headed to federal prison.

He was sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in Rome.

Cochran got five years on a variety of charges for conspiracy against a woman that he had sexually propositioned.

The charges involved orchestrating her false arrest, tampering with a witness, sexually assaulting a county employee and illegally searching another employee’s personal cell phone.

“Cochran completely abused the trust given to him by the good citizens of Murray County,” said Acting United States Attorney John A. Horn.

“Cochran used the power of the bench to victimize a citizen seeking justice and to exploit his staff. There is no greater breakdown in the justice system than when the judge himself violates other citizens’ rights to simply advantage himself.”

The case began in the spring of 2012, when Angela Garmley met with Cochran about a routine legal matter.

Prosecutors say he made inappropriate sexual advances on her during the meeting, including offering to rule in her favor in exchange for sex.

When that story broke a few months later, the judge called at least six law officers tipping them that Garmley had drugs in her car.

They say he also encouraged several officers to stop her, because it would hurt her story.

Then in August, he conspired with a renter of his to frame her for drug possession.

Clifford Joyce later admitted to planting five packets of meth under her fender.

Two days later, Murray County deputy Joshua Greeson stopped Garmley and searched her vehicle with drug dogs.

But they didn’t find anything.

Prosecutors proved that Captain Michael Henderson had a ten minute conversation with the judge.

And then he called the officers and told them where they could find the drugs in the fender.

Both Henderson and Greeson have since been convicted of witness tampering.

The case unraveled when Joyce admitted to planting the drugs.

Finally, Cochran tried to persuade a witness to provide false information against Garmley to hurt her credibility. 

The sexual assault involved a court employee not involved in the Garmley case.

“This sentencing concludes a lengthy investigation that not only ended the career of former Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Cochran, but also the careers of two Murray County law enforcement officers,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

“While the criminal actions of these individuals are disheartening, in the end, truth and justice prevailed.”

Categories: Local News, Murray County

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