The case of a former Wayne County Superior Court judge who was busted bribing a federal agent with beer in exchange for private text messages is nearing an end.
Arnold Jones pleaded guilty in March to a felony charge of promising and paying gratuities to a public official, which was a lesser included offense in his bribery prosecution. A federal jury had convicted him of bribery, paying gratuities and corruption.
But he was granted a new trial after he argued that the judge who presided over his trial badmouthed one of his attorneys within earshot of the jury and hamstrung his defense. The plea deal followed.
While the bribery and corruption charges carried maximum prison sentences of 15 and 20 years, respectively, the most prison time Jones faces for the gratuities conviction is two years. He could also be fined $250,000.
It was revealed during Jones’ trial that he asked a local federal agent, who became an informant, to secretly obtain his wife’s text messages from Verizon because he suspected she was having an affair. Whether his suspicion was true remains unknown. But the two are now estranged.
Prosecutors said Jones initially offered to give the federal agent two cases of Bud Light. But after the agent raised concerns about bringing all that beer to the courthouse, where the exchange was to occur, they settled on a $100 payment.
Jones’ presentence investigation report was filed with the court April 20, but it has been sealed along with many other documents in the case. An attempt to speak with one of his attorneys was unsuccessful.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle, who inherited the case from Fox, will hand down Jones’ sentence in Elizabeth City. As per courthouse rules, it will be a BYOB event.