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Judge convicted of bribing deputy to get wife's texts

Posted October 21

Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones II
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— A Superior Court judge was convicted Friday of bribing a Wayne County deputy last year to get his wife's text messages because he thought she was having an affair.

A federal court jury in Wilmington deliberated for only a half-hour before finding Judge Arnold O. Jones II guilty of paying bribes, paying gratuities and attempted corrupt influence of an official proceeding.

He will be sentenced in January, when he faces a maximum sentence of 37 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors say Jones asked a deputy to obtain text messages last fall, and the pair met in Goldsboro to exchange $100 for a disk supposedly containing the texts. Jones initially offered to give the officer "a couple cases of beer" for his help but later agreed to $100 in cash, authorities said.

The defense argued that the deputy never obtained the texts and the government never linked Jones' actions to "official acts" that violated the law.

"The jury’s verdict affirms a bedrock principle of the rule of law. No person holding a position of public trust in our legal system is permitted to subvert that system for his own personal objectives," U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce said in a statement.

Jones was a private attorney in Goldsboro for 18 years before being elected to the Superior Court in 2008. He presides over a judicial district encompassing Wayne, Lenoir and Greene counties and is running for re-election. It's unclear how the verdict and a possible appeal could affect his candidacy.

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