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Prosecutor Pleads Guilty as Jury Deliberates

Georgia DA Mark Jones accepts plea deal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 15, 2021 6:15 PM CST
Prosecutor Pleads Guilty as Jury Deliberates
This photo provided by the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office shows Mark Jones.   (Muscogee County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

(Newser) – As a jury was deliberating over his fate, a Georgia district attorney on Monday pleaded guilty to several charges stemming from improper acts while in office and agreed to resign. Mark Jones had already been suspended as Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit district attorney after the state attorney general’s office obtained the indictment on Sept. 7. It accused him of trying to influence a police officer’s testimony, offering bribes to prosecutors in his office, and trying to influence and prevent the testimony of a crime victim, the AP reports. Jones took office in January, overseeing the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, which serves Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee, Marion, Talbot, and Taylor counties in west Georgia.

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After deliberating briefly Thursday and then all day Friday, jurors had indicated Friday afternoon that they were unanimous on three of the nine charges, and the judge instructed them to keep working on the others, according to local news outlets. After about an hour of deliberations Monday, jurors said they had reached a consensus of guilty on five charges, but Jones had decided to agree to a plea deal, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports. He pleaded guilty to four counts in the indictment in exchange for a sentence of five years—one year to be served in prison and the remainder on probation—and a $1,000 fine, Attorney General Chris Carr said in a news release.

Jones also agreed to resign, submitting a resignation letter to Gov. Brian Kemp. "By abusing his power and abdicating his responsibility as district attorney, Mark Jones did a disservice to those he was elected to protect and put our very justice system at risk," Carr said in the release. "This outcome is a victory for integrity in prosecutions and the rule of law.” Jones pleaded guilty to one count of influencing witnesses for telling a police officer to testify a certain way. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted violation of oath by a public officer for offering two prosecutors in his office $1,000 each in exchange for following instructions he gave them. And he pleaded guilty to one count of violation of oath by a public officer for not helping a crime victim's nephew understand the court system and his rights.

(Read more Georgia stories.)

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