United States Attorney John Stuart Bruce announced that today in federal court before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle, former North Carolina Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones, II pled guilty to Promising and Paying Gratuities to a Public Official.
During the hearing on the defendant’s guilty plea, the Government summarized the evidence supporting the defendant’s guilty plea. The evidence established that between October 10, 2015 and November 3, 2015, Jones gave, offered, and promised cases of beer and $100 to a Federal Bureau of Investigation Task Force Officer in contemplation of the Task Force Officer’s act of compelling Verizon to produce Jones’s wife’s text messages in order to disclose those messages to Jones, even though Jones was not permitted to receive them by law.
The evidence showed that, as a judge, Jones 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 established that Jones desired the text messages to investigate his suspicions that his wife was having an affair. Multiple recorded conversations established Jones’ 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 that purported to contain the text messages and text messages coordinating the exchange of cash and a disk. The evidence also included a video of Jones exchanging the cash and disk on the steps of the Wayne County Courthouse in his judicial robe. No text messages were obtained or delivered to Jones.
At sentencing, on the charge of Promise and Payment of Gratuities to a Public Official, the defendant faces not more than 2 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation of this case. Assistant United States Attorneys William M. Gilmore and Adam F. Hulbig prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.