Bud Light recently had to apologize for its slogan “The Perfect Beer For Removing ‘No’ From Your Vocabulary For The Night.” It was part of a broader campaign and slogan on all Bud Lights as “the perfect beer for whatever happens.” Wayne County, North Carolina Judge Arnold O. Jones II appears to have taken that slogan to heart. He was just convicted for attempted bribery of a federal agent with two cases of Bud Light. Jones is a registered Democrat who was elected to an eight-year term on the Superior Court bench in 2008.
The Superior Court judge was convicted last Friday on three felonies of paying a bribe to a public official, promising and paying a gratuity to a public official, and corruptly attempting to influence an official proceeding. The bribe was to get copies of text messages from the phones of the judge’s wife and another man who the judge believed was having an affair with his wife. The agent was actually a Wayne County deputy, but the deputy was also a member of a FBI gang task force. Notably, the judge had just married the woman but became convinced that she was having an affair. The defense agreed to the underlying facts: “Shortly after marrying his wife, he began having concerns about her fidelity. Jones asked a sheriff’s deputy who he wrongly believed to be a friend whether the deputy could access his wife’s text messages. The deputy said yes when he should have just said no.”
The defense objects that the agent then set a trap for the judge and never told him that he would need a warrant for such text messages. The defense alleges that a simple inquiry from the judge was used to build a major investigation and a type of entrapment for him. While the deputy explained that the information would not meet the standard of probable cause, he said that he would see what he could do. Days later, the deputy told the judge he had the information on a disk (which was actually blank) and asked the judge to shred the disk after reviewing it to avoid it being traced to the deputy. That makes the entrapment defense very difficult. Even a jealous husband/judge would have realized that this was clearly improper (and should have realized when he asked in the first place. To make matters worse, the judge reportedly told the deputy that he had “his paycheck” in exchange for the disk and ended up giving him $100 instead of the two cases of Bud Light.