STOP PRESS: Detective Charged With Corruption Offenses

Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 in News | Comments Off on STOP PRESS: Detective Charged With Corruption Offenses

Investigator Joe Gardner. He was the lead detective in the Midnight Rider tragedy, the case where a camera assistant was struck by a freight train on a movie set. The movie’s director, Randall Miller, was charged with criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter and subsequently pled guilty. Wayne County law enforcement extorted that plea from Miller and for more on that, watch the documentary, “Trial of Midnight Rider: Railroaded in the Deep South”.

Meanwhile, though, there has been a development involving Investigator Garner that may well have a significant bearing on this case. Gardner has recently been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of “oath of office” violations. While seemingly insignificant these are, in fact, serious charges. The indictment says Gardner stole two firearms on separate occasions from the Sheriff’s evidence lock up and pawned them for a sum total of US$500.00.

In short, Investigator Gardner has been busted with his hand in the cookie jar. And there is a strong suspicion that there have been other cookie jars.

In a deposition given by Gardner’s supervisor, Captain Joe Naia, and featured in the documentary, Naia suspected that a sudden Gardner spending spree amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, after Miller took the plea, was highly suspicious. It’s well known that Gardner was perpetually broke. Where did he get the money…? Clearly not from the evidence lockup. But in Jesup, Wayne County, there are other ready sources of significant income available…

While it’s true Gardner has not been found guilty, it’s equally true that in Georgia, 98% of people convicted of a crime are indeed inevitably found guilty. It’s also worth noting that the prosecutor bringing the indictment the grand jury was Will Ivey, a prosecutor for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a much bigger fish than Wayne Country law enforcement, the regime in which Gardner oversaw and investigated countless cases in his 30-something-year career.

Here’s the thing. You are not occasionally corrupt. It’s like being a virgin. You either are or you aren’t. There was a lot riding on Miller’s case. There was the local landholder Rayonier on whose property this tragedy happened. There was CSX, the railroad company whose train struck and killed Sarah Jones. There was the union that supplies untrained “work to rule” labour to the billion-dollar Georgia film industry. And there was the Lead Investigator Gardner, right in the middle of it all, ignoring jurisdiction, not interviewing key witnesses, selectively ignoring key evidence, feigning ignorance of the law of discovery, and all while spending thousands and thousands of highly questionable dollars.

Watch this short except from the documentary: https://vimeo.com/330376809

And if you believe, as I do, that this case needs to be given a serious review by untainted law enforcement, send GBI prosecutor Will Ivey a short email and tell him so: will.w.ivey@gbi.ga.gov

And while you’re at it, let Wayne County know you’re making some noise by copying Wayne County Assistant District Attorney Rocky Bridges in on your email:  rockybridges@pacga.org

Your email could be the straw that breaks this camel’s back and sees some real justice handed out.

Trial of Midnight Rider