A judge in North Carolina’s Wayne County Superior Court is accused of abusing his power by asking a known FBI agent to snoop on his family members’ text messages. Judge Arnold Ogden Jones offered the agent two cases of beer in exchange for a disk full of texts, according to the federal indictment against him.
According to the indictment, Judge Jones asked the agent to obtain all text messages between two specific numbers, indicating that the messages would be “just for him” and that they “involved family.”
“I want down low — see what you can do without drawing attention,” the judge allegedly specified.
When it came time to talk payment, the indictment alleges, Jones was adamant that he couldn’t let the agent spy on his family’s texts “as a favor,” so the two agreed on “a couple cases of beer” as payment. They later changed the price to $100 in cash, which Jones allegedly handed over in exchange for a disk “represented to contain” the texts he want.
It’s not clear whether the FBI agent, who is not named, actually engaged in the warrantless surveillance, just that he told Jones he had gone through with it. It’s also not clear who the targets of the spying were supposed to be.
It is clear, however, that Jones is in a shitload of trouble. Ars Technica reports he has been placed on administrative leave and charged with three felonies, including bribing a public official. He faces 37 years in prison.
Jones was elected as a judge in 2008 and was entering the final year of an 8-year-term.