05/17/17 — Probation ---- Former Superior Court Judge Arnold O. Jones II sentenced in federal court

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Probation ---- Former Superior Court Judge Arnold O. Jones II sentenced in federal court

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on May 17, 2017 2:54 PM

ELIZABETH CITY ---- Former Superior Court Judge Arnold O. Jones II will serve two years probation and pay a $5,000 fine after being sentenced today in federal court for pleading guilty to promising and paying gratuities to a public official.

Jones will also be required to perform 100 hours of community service.

Jones pleaded with the court before being sentenced by Judge Terrence Boyle, asking to not go to prison so he could demonstrate he is a changed man.

"I stand here today and I am a broken man, but in many ways I am a better man," Jones told the court.

Jones told the court he was "embarrassed" and "ashamed" of what he had done.

He said since November 2015, when he was indicted for three felonies, that he'd taken a hard look at himself and taken steps to become a better person.

Jones told the court that he'd seen two doctors and had been on medication, and he said he continues to see a Christian counselor.

One of his attorneys, Joseph Cheshire, told the court Jones was in a dark place when he committed the crime, and that a number of undesirable circumstances caused him to do it.

William Gilmore, one of two attorneys who prosecuted the case, told the court that the government did not oppose giving Jones probation instead of prison.

Gilmore said the case was about holding Jones accountable for what he had done, and the government was satisfied the sentence did that.

He added that since Jones gave up his state-funded retirement and agreed to never seek office as a judge again ---- he could also lose his law license ---- that these elements also satisfied the government that Jones had been dealt an appropriate punishment.

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

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

Instead, that conviction was overturned earlier this year by Judge Terrence W. Boyle when the case was transferred to his court from that of Judge James C. Fox, the original presiding judge.

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

Rather than stand trial a second time, Jones pleaded guilty earlier this year to promising and paying gratuities to a public official. The court accpted his plea, resulting in Jones being sentenced today.


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 Federal Court in October 2016. The trial spanned five days in Wilmington.

Video, audio and text message evidence was presented against Jones during the trial. It showed that Jones had sent 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 agreed on two cases of beer, though Miller mentioned both options of two cases of beer or $100. The agreement wasfinalized 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 bill in November 2015. The exchange came at the bottom of the staircase inside the Wayne County Courthouse ---- Jones, all the while wearing his black judge's robe ---- for a blank disk he believed contained 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 days later and subsequently indicted on the charges.

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

Jones' defense attorneys were 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.