Earlier this week, investigative journalist Clarence Walker published a Chronicle feature article, "Sex, Lies, and a Georgia Drug Frame-up," about how now ex-Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran allegedly attempted to have local woman Angela Garmley framed on bogus drug charges after she accused him of seeking sexual favors in return for helping her in a pending court case.
Today, the handyman, Clifford "CJ" Joyce, pleaded guilty in federal court in Rome, Georgia, to his role in the conspiracy. Joyce copped to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and is now looking at up to 20 years in federal prison, although federal sentencing guidelines call for a much shorter sentence.
"CJ pled, and the government colloquy was great and agreed to, saying that he did conspire to distribute meth, to 'discredit' the woman who had made complaints about Judge Cochran," Garmley's attorney McCracken Poston told the Chronicle. "It also came out that he was a tenant in Cochran's trailer park, and there is a third party intermediary that also needs to come to justice. He was the go-between with Cochran and CJ. He was not mentioned in court but I know who he is and got it confirmed with CJ's lawyer, as I developed the information and gave it to the feds."
The plea came after federal prosecutors presented evidence that Joyce was a middleman in the plot to get Garmley falsely arrested.
"The defendant attempted to manipulate the criminal justice system to serve his own purpose by framing someone for drug possession," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "While the narcotics charges were ultimately dismissed, this outrageous conduct cannot stand."
"The investigation and prosecution of persons involved in public corruption are a priority of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Many of the cases such as this require partnership of local, state and federal authorities," said GBI Director Vernon M. Keenan.
The three perpetrators of the Garmley frame-up have now all pleaded guilty in the case, but the alleged instigator, former Judge Cochran, is yet to even be indicted. And now, there's a fourth player. Stay tuned.