A recently-elected district attorney in Georgia continued to make headlines with his indictments, though not in the manner typically associated with prosecutors.
Embattled Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Preston Jones (D) was arrested on Tuesday after being indicted by a Muscogee County Grand Jury on nine felony counts of misconduct in office, including charges of attempting to bribery and subornation of perjury. It marks the third time that Jones, who took office in January 2021, has been indicted in criminal cases since 2019.
According to the indictment, filed Tuesday in the Superior Court of Muscogee County, Jones allegedly tried in July to persuade a police officer to lie to a grand jury to get a murder indictment. Prosecutors allege that Jones told the officer to testify about a bogus motive to pin charges on Elijah Farral, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his girlfriend Sara Holtrop. Jones wanted the office to claim Farral believed Holtrop was cheating on him, in a bid to upgrade the charge to intentional murder, authorities say.
Jones is also accused of attempting to bribe an assistant district attorney under his supervision. Per the indictment, Jones allegedly offered a state prosecutor $1,000 in March if she was able to obtain a murder conviction in a particular case. He’s similarly accused of offering another female state prosecutor $1,000 in exchange for “announcing ready on a murder trial to the Superior Court on a case that was not ready for trial.”
Additionally, the state alleges that Jones “did knowingly use a threat and engage in misleading conduct” to prevent Chris Bailey, who is described as the victim of a crime, from providing a victim impact statement to the court.
According to a report from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, two brothers allegedly killed Bailey’s uncle in North Columbus following a dispute over children playing basketball in the street. Bailey had filed a motion claiming his family wasn’t notified when one of the suspects was released from jail on bond, but allegedly withdrew the motion after he spoke to Jones about the statement.
Jones is charged with two counts of influencing a witness, two counts of bribery, two counts of violation of oath by public officer, two counts of attempted violation of oath by public officer, and one count attempted subornation of perjury.
“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,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R) said in a statement Wednesday. “We appreciate the critical role and service of the Muscogee County grand jury, and we thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for their hard work in this investigation. We look forward to presenting our case in Court.”
A state judge earlier this month refused to dismiss an indictment against Jones on charges of first-degree criminal damage, interfering with government property, and conspiracy for his alleged role in a campaign video filmed in May 2020. The video, for which Jones did not have a permit, included several cars performing “donuts” around the then-candidate in the parking lot of the Columbus Civic Center, allegedly causing $306,000 in damages to the property. His trial is scheduled to begin next week.
Jones in 2019 was charged with driving under the influence after he allegedly rear-ended a woman’s car at a red light. Police said a breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol content was .088, which exceeded the state minimum of .08.
Jones, a Democrat, defeated incumbent DA Julia Slater, also a Democrat, last summer and did not face a Republican candidate in the general election.
Read the indictment below.
[image via Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]