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Small town chief must resign after plea deal over DWI scheme

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SPRINGFIELD - The town will lose its police chief under a plea deal the now former officer reached with prosecutors in a criminal case over a DWI where the records were cooked.

In July 2012, Chief James Jones (pictured right) and Mayor Charles Martin (pictured left) were indicted for obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice, injuring public records and criminal conspiracy to injure public records. The pair were indicted a year after being booked on related charges following an investigation by the Louisiana Office of the Inspector General. Investigators said the mayor and chief plotted to conceal evidence and obstruct the prosecution of a suspect arrested in April 2011 on suspicion of drunken driving.

Jones pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief in court Tuesday. WBRZ reporter Troy Gaulden was in court for the proceeding.

"The cost of litigation with a police officer's salary is to exorbitant for this case to continue on," Jones' attorney said after the plea deal was announced.

"The one thing about the chief is that the town of Springfield really appreciated his service. To have it end up like this is understandably sad," Timothy Fondren added.

Jones was sentenced to one year probation, $250 fine related to court fees, $350 fine for monitoring fees and must perform 32 hours of community service in addition to resigning from his position.

"This was about sending a message to those who do come forward and report things that need to be taken care of, that are illegal, that they're going to have somebody that's going to listen to them and take those things seriously," Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell said.

"The main thing is someone who directs this kind of illegal activity is no longer in position to do so," he said.

Jones' attorney said the plea arrangement does not negate Jones' ability from working in law enforcement. Fondren said he believes Jones was planning to try and stay in the law enforcement business.

Martin goes to trial in June and has a similar plea offer as Jones.

Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz



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