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Saunders: Gimme a pig’s foot and a bottle of beer – in Acapulco

Judge Arnold O. Jones works from the bench during a trial in Goldsboro, NC. Jones was arrested Nov. 4 and charged with attempting to bribe an FBI agent with beer and cash to obtain copies of text messages involving members of his family.
Judge Arnold O. Jones works from the bench during a trial in Goldsboro, NC. Jones was arrested Nov. 4 and charged with attempting to bribe an FBI agent with beer and cash to obtain copies of text messages involving members of his family. Goldsboro News-Argus

Throw in a pig’s foot and we got a deal, your honor.

That would’ve been my response to Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II if he’d offered me, as he’s accused of offering a federal agent, two cases of beer to break federal law.

Jones appears to be up the creek without a gavel after being arrested for allegedly trying to bribe an FBI task force officer to dig into some text messages between two of Jones’s relatives. Since the indictment states that the judge wanted this done on the “down low” – without a warrant – the agent demurred, but ultimately pretended to go along with it and ended up ensnaring the judge in his own black robe.

Statesman Henry Stimson noted more than eight decades ago that “gentlemen don’t read other people’s mail.” He said that waaaay before cell phones were invented, but he’d probably say the same thing today about text messages.

Geoff Hulse, one of two Goldsboro attorneys representing Jones, issued a statement last week saying, “The charges against Judge Jones are unwarranted by the actual facts, and are misapplications – and misuses – of the law. The charges trivialize the concepts of ‘bribery’ and ‘corruption,’ and this prosecution is wholly unjustified. Judge Jones maintains his innocence of any criminal violation of law and has faith that the judicial process will fully exonerate him.”

The indictment I read stated that “on or around Oct. 10, Superior Court Judge Jones sent a text message to the FBI officer” requesting that he “get access to text messages and exchanges between two numbers and get copies of those messages.”

Deep down in your voyeuristic heart, wouldn’t you like to find out what was compelling enough in those messages for him to risk his reputation – or even to whom the numbers belonged?

I admit that I can be had and bought, but it’ll take a lot more than a case of beer or a C-note. If a judge had approached me with such a penny ante, picayunish, pig’s footless offer, I’d have been like ‘Sure Judge, I’ll do it for two cases of beer – one, even. Just make sure I’m drinking it on a beach in Acapulco.’

That’s immaterial, really. What isn’t immaterial is that, once again, even scandal in North Carolina looks low-rate.

Mere days after The N&O reported that it appears Gov. McCrory used his influence to help a pal who’d donated relative chump change – $12,000 – to his campaign secure a multimillion-dollar state contract, we now learn that the Wayne County Democratic jurist who represents Wayne, Lenoir and Greene counties is accused of trying to entice the FBI agent to break the law for two cases of beer.

When that proved to be insufficient inducement for the agent to risk his badge and career – ya think? – Jones supposedly sweetened the offer. He offered the agent $100, the indictment read.

But no beer.

And still no mention of pickled pig’s feet.

Man, anyone who’s ever drunk more than three beers in a sittin’ knows that those bad boys go down a lot smoother when they’re chasing or lubricating the way for some hog trotters. A hungry beer burp – one without a pigfoot to season the aftertaste – is a lonely thing.

One of my favorite country music songs goes

“I can be had but I can’t be bought.

“I can be bad as long as I don’t get caught.”

Well dammit, I admit that I can be had and bought, but it’ll take a lot more than a case of beer or a C-note. If a judge had approached me with such a penny ante, picayunish, pig’s footless offer, I’d have been like “Sure Judge, I’ll do it for two cases of beer – one, even. Just make sure I’m drinking it on a beach in Acapulco.”

Couldn’t he have at least offered him some caviar, foie gras – expensive potted meat made out of duck’s liver – or even a platter of Vienna sausages with fancy toothpicks stuck in them to add some class?

The indictment quotes Judge Jones as telling the agent, “See what you can do without drawing attention.”

Sorry, judge, but any time you’re accused of trying to bribe anyone over 16 with beer, it’s going to draw attention – especially when there are no pig’s feet as part of the deal.

Pondered more profoundly, though, it is understandable why a judge named Arnold wouldn’t offer a pig’s foot.

(Go ahead, think about it: I’ll wait.)

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