Another Georgia district attorney indicted, this one for bribery

Mark Jones, district attorney of the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. (Photo credit: Daniel Breault)

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Mark Jones, district attorney of the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. (Photo credit: Daniel Breault)

DA Mark Jones oversees the 6-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit

The district attorney headquartered in Columbus on Tuesday became the third sitting or former top prosecutor in Georgia to be indicted this year.

District Attorney Mark Jones, who oversees the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, was indicted by a Muscogee County grand jury for nine felonies, including allegations he tried to bribe two of his own prosecutors for $1,000 each.

Jones joins the Paulding County district attorney and the former Glynn County district attorney with being criminally charged this year.

“I’m shocked we have three under indictment at the same time,” said former DeKalb County DA Bob Wilson, who started practicing law in 1974. “I’m not aware of anything like this happening before. To have three at one time says something that’s not good.”

DAs and those who enforce the law “should be symbols of adherence to the law,” Wilson added. “If they’re not, we’re in sad shape.”

The indictment was obtained by the state attorney general’s office. “It is important for the citizens of Georgia to know that our office will not hesitate to enforce the rule of law, including when it involves the actions of a public official,” Attorney General Chris Carr said Tuesday.

In February, his office obtained an indictment against now-suspended Paulding County DA Dick Donovan for bribery and other offenses in a case stemming from his relationship with a top female staff member. Last week, the office secured an indictment against ex-Glynn County DA Jackie Johnson for allegedly obstructing the investigation into the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, just outside of Brunswick.

Johnson’s alleged offenses include instructing a police officer not to arrest Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery. This was before she was voted out of office in November. Johnson, who could not be reached for comment, has yet to turn herself in to the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office.

As for Donovan, he has denied any wrongdoing.

“Let’s see how they like being in the defendant’s seat now,” Atlanta criminal defense attorney Bruce Harvey said. “Corruption’s a constant. It’s the same old wine in a brand new bottle. Just because we don’t see it all the time doesn’t mean it’s not there. Now it’s coming to the surface.”

Jones was voted into office last year, defeating incumbent DA Julia Slater in the Democratic primary and facing no opposition in the general election. Neither he nor his attorney, Chris Breault, could be reached for comment.

The indictment accuses Jones of influencing a witness. This allegedly occurred July 7 when he told law enforcement officer Sherman Hayes he should testify that he believed a deceased woman had been “cheating” on her alleged killer, Elijah Farral. This was allegedly to provide a motive so that Farral could be charged with murder.

“I'm shocked we have three under indictment at the same time. I'm not aware of anything like this happening before. To have three at one time says something that's not good."

- Former DeKalb County DA Bob Wilson, who started practicing law in 1974

Jones is separately charged with attempted subornation of perjury for trying to get Hayes to make those statements, according to the indictment.

Jones is also charged with offering Sheneka Jones Terry, a prosecutor in the office, $1,000 in exchange for obtaining a murder conviction in an unspecified case. And Jones is accused of offering $1,000 to assistant district attorney Kimberly Schwartz in exchange for her telling a judge she was ready to try an unspecified murder case when the case was not ready for trial, the indictment states. Both of these alleged offenses occurred on March 25.

This is not the first time Jones has been criminally charged. He has been accused of injuring a woman while allegedly driving under the influence. He was also charged last year with criminally damaging a parking lot at the local Civic Center when filming a campaign video. In the ad, drivers left tire marks on the lot by doing doughnuts and burning rubber.

Jones recently rejected a plea deal for a misdemeanor in the Civic Center case and is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 13, the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer reported. Jones’ judicial district consists of Muscogee, Harris, Talbot, Taylor, Marion and Chattahoochee counties.

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