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North Carolina

Judge accused of asking an FBI agent to spy on his family in exchange for free beer

“No no no. You’ve had to take time. And I’m glad to do something…”

jones Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II ABC 11 ABC 11

A SENIOR JUDGE in the US state of North Carolina has been arrested and charged with bribery and corruption, after allegedly asking an FBI agent to spy on his family, in return for “a couple of cases of beer”.

Arnold Ogden Jones II, Senior Resident Judge in the state’s Superior Court, is accused of asking the FBI agent to access and make copies of text messages sent between two specified mobile phone numbers.

Hacking and conducting surveillance on phone communications can only be done with a court-ordered warrant, after a law enforcement officer has proven probable cause that the targets are involved in criminal acts.

However, according to a three-count indictment published on Wednesday, Jones texted the FBI agent last month to say the messages were “just for me,” and “involved family”.

I want down low – see what you can do without drawing attention. This involves family so I don’t want anyone to know.

Although the requested text messages didn’t have anything to do with criminal activity, the FBI agent informed Jones he had managed to obtain a federal search warrant for the two numbers.

According to the indictment, Jones and the agent agreed on “a couple of cases of beer” as payment for handing over the text messages.

jonesindictmentexcerpt US Department of Justice US Department of Justice

On Monday 2 November, the FBI agent told Jones he had used his official bureau computer to download the texts, and asked the judge to shred the disk he would be giving him.

The agent’s fee was then upgraded from free beer to $100 in cash.

The two men allegedly met in the city of Goldsboro, North Carolina on Tuesday, where the money was exchanged for “an FBI disk that was represented to contain the text messages…”

Jones was arrested and charged on Wednesday.

The indictment against the judge doesn’t stipulate whether or not the FBI agent ever obtained a federal search warrant, as was conveyed to Jones, or whether the disk handed over actually contained any hacked text messages.

However, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office in North Carolina confirmed for that this was an undercover operation:

[The FBI agent] did everything appropriately.  This case was initiated when the Judge sent him an unsolicited text message proposing the criminal activity. 
The Officer at that point began an undercover operation under FBI supervision.

According to local news channel ABC 11, Jones practised as a lawyer for 18 years, before being elected to the North Carolina Superior Court in 2008.

If convicted of all charges, he could face a maximum sentence of 37 years in prison.

Comments have been disabled on this article, due to ongoing legal proceedings.

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