Bob Jones Pleads Guilty
POSTED: Friday, July 3, 2009 - 8:21am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:24pm
Implicates 19 people in Corruption Probe
EL PASO--- Arguably the most high-profile defendant in the public corruption probe plead guilty Thursday, and now what he knows could lead to more than a dozen others to be charged.
Businessman Bob Jones pleaded guilty to six counts in federal court
The 63-year-old man hid inside the courthouse after the hearing, trying to avoid the media.
But Bob Jones couldn't avoid being teary-eyed in court, even needing a tissue upon hearing some strong words from U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo.
"I'm sure you're nervous, and you should be," said Montalvo, before prosecutors read aloud each count Jones would plead guilty to.
"I think you can see that he was pretty emotional. I mean it's very difficult for him to acknowledge some of his actions. He has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty," said Jones' attorney, Joe Spencer, outside the courthouse after the hearing.
Jones plead to four of the 42 original charges, including embezzling government funds as president of the National Center for the Employment of the Disabled.
But he also plead guilty to two new counts; one which will play a vital role in the future of the corruption probe.
"He actually has a huge sense of relief that this part of the dilemma and arbitress that's been on him is over. So he's glad to get this part over with and he's looking forward into the next stage in finally getting a resolution in this case," said Spencer.
The next stage? Fulfilling his obligation to U.S. attorneys.
He has given the feds information about bribing 19 people, including county commissioners and board members from the El Paso, Ysleta and Socorro School Districts.
In turn, Jones allegedly told prosecutors, those co-conspirators would influence votes in favor of contracts.
While no names have been released, we're told Jones will do whatever is asked of him by the government, including testifying against those he's named.
After the hearing, Jones simply wanted to get away from reporters and cameras, but his ordeal is far from over.
His plea deal caps his possible prison time at no more than 10 years.
Judge Montalvo said he would honor that agreement, but the sentencing will have to wait until Jones has honored his promises to the government and cooperated fully in the criminal cases.