Michael Henderson pleaded guilty Wednesday in Federal Court at Rome, Ga., to obstructing a pending civil rights investigation by tampering with a witness while employed as a Murray County Sheriff’s captain.
“Mr. Henderson violated both the law and the public’s trust when he lied to his fellow law enforcement officers and obstructed a civil rights investigation,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Bottom line, the citizens of Murray County at minimum deserve police officers who obey the laws that they have sworn to enforce.”
“The citizens of this state should have every expectation that those who serve do so with integrity and within the bounds of the law,” said Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office. “The conduct of this now former law enforcement officer, as presented in this case, was clearly not within those standards and the FBI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners in ensuring that the public’s trust is well deserved.”
“The state of Georgia will not tolerate criminal activity by those officials with the duty to enforce its laws,” said Vernon Keenan, GBI Director.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court, sometime in July 2012, then-Captain Henderson received information that a white Dodge vehicle was being used to carry drugs. He passed this information along to other deputies with the Murray County Sheriff’s Office.
Henderson and separately charged former Deputy Sheriff Joshua L. Greeson participated in a traffic stop of the white Dodge car on Aug. 14, 2012. During the stop, Greeson found methamphetamine in a metal can hidden under the wheel well of the car. After finding the drugs, they arrested the driver and owner/ passenger of the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) received information that the drugs had been planted on the vehicle by another individual, in an attempt to falsely implicate the car’s owner. As a result, the state drug charges against the owner of the white Dodge were dismissed.
On Aug. 22, 2012, agents from the GBI interviewed Henderson in connection with a civil rights investigation. During the interview, Henderson falsely stated to the GBI agents that he had never told any other members of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office that he had received information that the white Dodge was allegedly carrying drugs. As stated above, Henderson had in fact received information that the white Dodge vehicle carried controlled substances.
On Aug. 31, 2012, Henderson was fired from the Sheriff’s Office.
Henderson, 41, of Murray County, Ga. could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. However, in determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 31 at 1:30 p.m. before United States District Judge Harold L. Murphy.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis and Michael Herskowitz are prosecuting the case.