Facing charges of patronizing prostitution, the former chief executive officer of the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) made a plea deal Friday.
Ronald Garrison, 60, entered an Alford plea, which is a guilty plea on the record but without an admission of guilt, according to a news release issued by the Shelby County district attorney’s office. An Alford plea is an acknowledgment that the prosecution has strong evidence.
Garrison was placed on six months diversion. He can ask the General Sessions Criminal Court to have the misdemeanor offense cleared from his record if he abides by the terms of the diversion, which includes avoiding any new arrests.
Garrison was one of 42 people charged in a police sting in January. The defendants responded to online ads posted by undercover agents posing as prostitutes.
WREG News Channel 3 reported that Garrison agreed to pay a decoy for sex, but was uncomfortable when he got to a motel room in Cordova to meet the undercover officer and left. He was then detained.
Garrison resigned the day before news of his arrest broke, citing health reasons. He had been CEO of MATA since 2014.
Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) was involved in the sting along with other law enforcement agencies because several of those involved were illegal immigrants.