05/02/17 — Jones hearing to be this month

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Jones hearing to be this month

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on May 2, 2017 9:57 AM

Arnold O. Jones II

Former Superior Court Judge Arnold O. Jones II will be sentenced in federal court May 17 after pleading guilty in March to promising and paying gratuities to a public official.

The sentencing hearing will be at 2 p.m. in Elizabeth City, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

At sentencing, Jones will face up to two years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Jones pleaded guilty to the charge after being tried and convicted of three felonies in October 2016 after bribing a federal agent to get copies of text messages between his wife and another man.

Jones was originally convicted of paying bribes, paying gratuities and attempting to corruptly influence an official proceeding.

If that conviction stuck, Jones would have faced up to 37 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.

But that conviction was overturned earlier this year by Judge Terrence W. Boyle when the case was transferred from Judge James C. Fox -- who presided over the trial -- to Boyle.

Boyle did not give a reason for overturning the conviction and granting Jones a new trial.

Instead of standing trial a second time, Jones pleaded guilty earlier this year to promising and paying gratuities to a public official, for which he will now be sentenced.

A three-count indictment was handed down against Jones on Nov. 3, 2015, and a superseding indictment that maintained the same original corruption charges against Jones was handed down Aug. 23, 2016.

The case went to trial in October 2016 and spanned five days in Wilmington.

Video, audio and text message evidence was presented against Jones in that trial that showed him sending a text requesting the favor from Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy and FBI Task Force Officer Matt Miller to get the messages between his wife and another man.

The multimedia evidence then showed a video of Jones meeting Miller inside Miller's work car in a McDonald's parking lot in Wayne County to arrange the details of the exchange.

In the video, Miller showed Jones a roster of phone numbers and questioned which numbers Jones wanted.

During that video, the men appeared to agree on two cases of beer, though Miller mentioned both options of two cases of beer or $100. The agreement was made when the men settled on the two cases of beer.

In the following days before the exchange occurred, the form of payment was switched from cases of beer to $100.

Video evidence then showed Jones giving Miller a folded up $100 in November 2015 at the bottom of the staircase inside the Wayne County Courthouse -- while wearing his black judge's robe -- for a blank disk he believed had the text messages he sought.

Jones promised Miller he would destroy the disk when he was finished with it, and took efforts to conceal Miller's involvement in obtaining the text messages.

Jones was then arrested in the following days and indicted on the charges.

Following the trial's closing arguments, the jury deliberated little more than 30 minutes before handing down a unanimous conviction on all counts.

Jones' defense attorneys are Geoff Hulse, Elliott Abrams, Glenn Barfield and Joseph Cheshire.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys William M. Gilmore and Adam F. Hulbig prosecuted the case.

The month following his 2016 conviction, Jones lost his bid for re-election in November 2016, against current District 8-B Superior Court Judge Will Bland.

Bland won the Superior Court Judge seat from Jones with nearly 64 percent of the vote.