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A Judge Allegedly Tried to Bribe an FBI Agent with Beer for Copies of Text Messages

"I want down low," the judge allegedly said. "See what you can do without drawing attention."
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US

Not the judge who was arrested. Photo via Flickr user Joi Ito

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A prominent judge in North Carolina was arrested on Wednesday after allegedly trying to bribe a federal agent with some brews, as the local News & Observer reports. According to an indictment, Wayne County Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II was desperate to get his hands on a set of text messages involving members of his family, though it's not precisely clear what made them worth all the trouble.


Authorities say Jones II hit up an FBI agent for copies of text messages between two numbers, and that on October 9, Jones told the agent the text messages were "just for [him]" and "involve[d] family members," according to the indictment.

A little over a week later, the indictment says, the FBI agent told Jones he lacked the probable cause required to get the texts, but that he'd keep trying if the judge really wanted him to. "I want down low," Jones allegedly replied. "See what you can do without drawing attention."

The two finally met in a car a few days before Halloween, at which time Jones offered the agent "a couple of cases of beer" for copies of the text messages, according to the indictment. On Monday, the agent let Jones know he had the information on a disk. The judge then allegedly told him he'd destroy the disk after he accessed it, and that he'd fork over $100—not the suds they'd previously agreed on. According to the indictment, the sum—which seems like a pretty paltry one for such a delicate matter—changed hands on Tuesday.

Jones stands accused of 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. Adding a dose of gravity to the case, the Democrat is chairman of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, which reviews problematic convictions. How Jones's bizarre (alleged) obsession with a few texts will impact the many citizens of his state who are stuck in the criminal justice system remains to be seen.

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