A North Carolina judge was arrested this week for allegedly trying to bribe an FBI agent to obtain a log of text messages without a warrant.
"I want down low," Wayne County Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II texted an FBI agent, according to a federal indictment. Ogden wasn't talking about surreptitious gay sex — he wanted a text message exchange between two cell numbers delivered to him in secret. The indictment accuses Jones of trying to bribe the FBI agent to fetch him the exchange without a warrant. The bribe in question: Sweet, sweet alcohol.
FBI agents can't obtain the contents of text messages without first getting a warrant on suspicion of criminal behaviour. And it doesn't look like these text messages in question had anything to do with cases in Jones' court. Jones allegedly told the agent it was a "family" thing.
While the indictment states that Jones and the FBI agent agreed that the bribe would be "a couple of cases of beer," it was later switched to $US100 in cash. The agent handed Jones a dummy disc made to look like it had the texts on it after receiving the bribe. (The FBI agent is unnamed in the indictment. While it doesn't explicitly say it was a sting, since the agent turned over a fake disc, it appears he was cooperating.)
Jones faces three felony charges, two related to bribing a public official and one for corrupting official proceedings.
It's almost comforting that a bribe that would appeal to a frat boy didn't actually result in warrantless spying. Except a judge truly thought it would.