Local

Judge accused of bribing federal agent disputes charges

Wayne County Judge Arnold Ogden Jones, (second from left) attends a meeting of the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission Dec. 5, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. Jones, chairman of the commission, was charged in Federal Court Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 with trying to bribe an FBI agent with beer and cash to obtain copies of text messages involving members of his family.
Wayne County Judge Arnold Ogden Jones, (second from left) attends a meeting of the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission Dec. 5, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. Jones, chairman of the commission, was charged in Federal Court Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 with trying to bribe an FBI agent with beer and cash to obtain copies of text messages involving members of his family. News & Observer file photo

The Wayne County Superior Court judge accused of offering a federal agent two cases of beer to get text messages for a family-related matter plans to fight the federal charges filed against him, his attorney said Thursday.

Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II, indicted on Tuesday, faces three federal charges — promising and paying a bribe to a public official, promising and paying a gratuity to a public official and corruptly attempting to influence an official proceeding.

Glenn Barfield, a Goldsboro lawyer representing Jones, issued a brief statement on Thursday about a case that leaves many questions unanswered because of the limited details released.

“All I can say is that Judge Jones denies that he has committed any crime, he will plead not guilty, and will vigorously contest the charges,” Barfield said in an email statement on Thursday.

Jones, the senior resident Superior Court judge in a judicial district that includes Wayne, Lenoir and Greene counties, is accused of texting a FBI agent on Oct. 10, trying to get copies of text messages exchanged between two numbers.

The name of the agent was not disclosed in the indictment publicly issued on Wednesday, but the court document describes several encounters between the agent and the judge.

On Oct. 19, the FBI agent told the judge there wasn’t the legally required probable cause to get the texts he had asked for.

But the agent added that if the judge desired, he would continue to try to get them, nonetheless.

The judge reportedly said: “I want down low – see what you can do without drawing attention,” according to the indictment. “… This involves family so I don’t want anybody to know.”

The indictment does not mention which family members were involved nor does it list the phone numbers from which the texts were being sought.

The FBI agent and judge met in a car on Oct. 27, according to the indictment, where they reportedly discussed a fee for the information. Jones reportedly offered the agent “a couple of cases of beer” for helping him get copies of the text messages.

On Monday, the federal agent informed the judge he had the information on a disk. In addition to agreeing to shred the disk so it could not be traced back to the agent’s computer, the judge reportedly told the agent he had “his paycheck.”

During that time, the indictment states, the judge agreed to give the agent $100 instead of beer. The two met on Tuesday in Goldsboro, and the judge handed over $100 in cash, according to the indictment.

Jones, a registered Democrat who was elected to an eight-year term on the Superior Court bench in 2008, is the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission chairman.

When a judge in North Carolina is accused of behavior that violates the N.C. Code of Judicial Conduct, the matter is weighed by a 13-member N.C. Judicial Standards Commission – which includes an N.C. Court of Appeals judge, two Superior Court judges and two district judges.

Efforts to reach Jones have been unsuccessful and his status on the bench remained unclear Thursday.

Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe1

  Comments