WILMINGTON, N.C., Oct. 22 (UPI) -- A Superior Court judge in North Carolina was convicted for attempting to bribe a federal agent with "a couple cases of beer" in exchange for his wife's text messages.
A federal court jury in Wilmington found Arnold O. Jones II guilty of paying bribes and gratuities and attempted corrupt influence of an official proceeding after just half-an-hour of deliberation, according to WRAL.
Jones was accused of bribing a Wayne County deputy, who is also an FBI gang task force, member for text messages between his wife and another man.
"Shortly after marrying his wife, he began having concerns about her fidelity," the defense team said, according to The News and Observer."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."
Jones told the agent the messages were "just for [him]" and "involve[d]" family members, as he initially offered two cases of Bud Light beer before agreeing to pay the agent $100 in cash instead.
Prosecutors said the two met up in Goldsboro to exchange the cash for a disk which supposedly contained the texts.
The defense argued the agent never actually obtained the texts and the government never linked Jones' actions to "official acts" which violated the law.
A defense attorney announced planes to appeal the verdict against Jones ahead of his Jan. 23 sentencing date. Jones faces a maximum sentence of 37 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
"The jury's verdict affirms a bedrock principle of the rule of law," U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce said. "No person holding a position of public trust in our legal system is permitted to subvert that system for his own personal objectives."