WILMINGTON – The United States Attorney’s Office announced that today in federal court, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three corruption charges pending against the defendant, North Carolina Superior Court Judge ARNOLD OGDEN JONES, II. The defendant was charged in a Superseding Indictment with Paying Bribes; Paying Gratuities; and Attempted Corrupt Influence of an Official Proceeding.
Following a five-day trial, the jury began deliberations at 10:02 am, and returned a verdict at 10:35 am. Sentencing of the defendant will occur during the court’s January 23, 2017 term.
United States Attorney John Stuart Bruce stated, “The jury’s verdict affirms a bedrock principle of the rule of law. No person holding a postion of public trust in our legal system is permitted to subvert that system for his own personal objectives.”
“Corruption will not be tolerated, no matter the level of government, the complexity of the scheme, or the names of those committing the fraud. Rooting out public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority and we rely on our law enforcement partners and citizens to help us identify those offenders who put our democracy at risk,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.
During the trial, the evidence established that between October 10, 2015 and November 3, 2015 JONESgave, offered, and promised cases of beer and $100 to a Federal Bureau of Investigation Task Force Officer to influence him to compel Verizon to produce JONES’s wife’s text messages, and to disclose those messages to JONES, even though he was not permitted to receive them by law. Upon being contacted by JONES, the Task Force Officer quickly reported it and, with FBI supervisory approval, a FBI investigation was initiated. Evidence at the trial established that JONES, as a judge, was familiar with the processes and procedures law enforcement must undertake to obtain private text message content, including the need for the FBI to have an ongoing investigation and a legitimate law enforcement need for such text content. The evidence further established that JONES desired the text messages to investigate his suspicions that his wife was having an affair. Evidence presented at trial, including multiple recorded conversations, established JONES’s desire to conceal the FBI Task Force Officer’s involvement in obtaining the texts. JONES agreed to destroy evidence of the crime, including a disk purported to contain the text messages, and text messages coordinating the exchange of cash and a disk. The evidence in the case concluded with a video of JONES exchanging the cash and disk on the steps of the Wayne County Courthouse in his judicial robe.
At sentencing, on the charge of Bribery, the defendant faces not more than 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. On the charge of Gratuities, the defendant faces not more than 2 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. On the charge of Attempting to Corruptly Influence an Official Proceeding, the defendant faces not more than 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys William M. Gilmore and Adam F. Hulbig prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.