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Aiken lawyer barred from practicing after guilty plea

Aiken lawyer awaits disciplinary actions

Thursday, March 22, 2012 10:29 AM
Last updated Friday, March 23, 2012 12:57 AM
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A local lawyer who had been accused of smuggling contraband to a Richmond County jail inmate and trying to influence a witness in an armed robbery case has been barred from practicing law in two states while awaiting disciplinary actions.

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S. Jones  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
S. Jones


Sidney “Chuck” Jones, 59, of Graniteville, was arrested Sept. 28 after Richmond County sheriff’s investigators observed him passing bags containing tobacco and marijuana to an inmate, according to court documents.

Jones was indicted in November on three felonies – influencing a witness, crossing guard lines with drugs and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute – but later pleaded guilty to 11 misdemeanors and was sentenced to probation by Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet.

Jones avoided jail time, but his arrest and guilty plea have, in effect, shut down his ability to practice law in both South Carolina and Georgia.

Two days after his arrest, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an order suspending his license to practice law until further notice. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel could pursue a revocation of his license, but no action had been taken as of Wednesday, South Carolina officials said.

In Georgia, part of Jones’ sentencing requires that he refrain from practicing law for the period of his probation – 11 years. The State Bar of Georgia has requested all documents pertaining to Jones’ case for a “pending disciplinary matter,” according to a letter sent to District Attorney Ashley Wright.

No disciplinary proceeding had been filed with the Georgia Supreme Court as of Wednesday, according to Jenny Mittelman, the deputy general counsel for the State Bar.

According to court documents, Jones came to the attention of Richmond County sheriff’s investigators after jail employees caught an inmate, Jamie Trey Robinson, with contraband tobacco.

Robinson, 36, told investigators that he had obtained the tobacco from Jones, who had been smuggling bags of the substance into the jail for weeks. Robinson, who is awaiting trial on armed robbery and hijacking charges, told police a few days after his arrest in April that he knew who was behind another series of armed robberies at restaurants.

According to court documents, Robinson named Tyler Jones, of Warrenville, as the gunman who had been walking into Waffle Houses, firing a shot into the ceiling and robbing the businesses. Tyler Jones was arrested and charged in several robberies by Aiken County authorities.

About two weeks later, Robinson said that Sidney Jones, who practices law at Jones and Lynn Law Offices in Aiken, appeared at the Richmond County jail.

Robinson said Jones offered to represent him for free and provide him with weekly drops of tobacco, in exchange for his changing his story about his son, Tyler Jones.

Authorities said Jones began coach­ing Robinson and eventually had him sign three affidavits intended to help his son beat charges in Aiken County. Robinson told investigators all the affidavits were false.

Investigators allowed Robinson to set up another meeting with Jones that they could observe. After they saw Jones pass Robinson several bags in an interview room at the jail, a search of the bags also found about 3 grams of marijuana, court documents said.

Jones denied all charges, but eventually pleaded guilty to 10 counts of crossing guard lines with contraband and one count of disorderly conduct for preparing an affidavit for Robinson to sign.

Wright said she agreed to the negotiated plea in December because it would have been difficult to prove Jones knowingly smuggled marijuana into the jail because he had obtained the packages from a third party.

Moreover, the charge of influencing a witness was reduced in part because the witness did not testify and the affidavits were never presented in court.

She said the plea prevents Jones from practicing in Georgia and could ultimately result in his disbarment.

“We effectively inoculated ourselves against him and his practices, which is what we were after,” she said.

In South Carolina, Tyler Jones was convicted this week of armed robbery, burglary and possession of a weapon in an April 17 home invasion in North Augusta, Assistant Solicitor David Miller said.

He was sentenced Thursday by Circuit Judge Jack Early to 22 years in prison, Miller said.

Miller said Jones also awaits trial in five other armed robberies, but prosecutors chose to move ahead with that case separately because it did not involve testimony from Robinson.

Comments (25) Add comment
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my.voice
5156
Points
my.voice 03/22/12 - 10:35 am
1
0
The gentleman in the photo is

The gentleman in the photo is 59? If so, he's discovered the fountain of youth, he looks like a kid.

gmt
79
Points
gmt 03/22/12 - 10:41 am
1
0
The mug shot is of Tyler

The mug shot is of Tyler Jones. They should have labelled it.

my.voice
5156
Points
my.voice 03/22/12 - 10:57 am
1
0
My bad..........

My bad..........

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 03/22/12 - 11:16 am
3
0
This is very good news for

This is very good news for the public.

curly123053
5343
Points
curly123053 03/23/12 - 05:52 am
1
0
His disbarment from SC should

His disbarment from SC should mirror Ga's suspension to keep him out of practice in the area. What a scumbag!

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/23/12 - 06:49 am
5
2
An officer of the court

An officer of the court conspires in such a way to obstruct justice and all he gets in Georgia (in the way of jail time) is PROBATION?

Thanks a pantload Judge Overstreet.

americafirst
1001
Points
americafirst 03/23/12 - 07:09 am
3
1
It was a negotiated plea

It was a negotiated plea agreement, Austin. In other words the DA agreed to the probated sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Under the law, Judge Overstreet had to inform the defendant if he did not intend to honor the agreement for a probated sentence and the defendant had a right to withdraw his plea. The Judge could not have sentenced him to prison under those circumstances unless the defendant agreed to go forward with the guilty plea knowing the he was going to get some time in prison. Your bias against Judge Overstreet leads you to unwarranted criticism. It was the DA that agreed to the probated sentence and apparently for good reasons. Overstreet simply went along with the agreement.

fiveobike1
65
Points
fiveobike1 03/23/12 - 08:19 am
4
0
A Judge has the final say on

A Judge has the final say on a Plea Agreement, he can nix it if he feels it is in the best interest of the public he serves.. and perhaps in this case an example should have been made of this lawyer, he should be held to a higher standard than the rest of the public, much like a police officer is when they are arrested...

GuesS_wHU
3
Points
GuesS_wHU 03/23/12 - 08:33 am
0
1
Was Fry disbarred for

Was Fry disbarred for attempted bribes of two commissioners?

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/23/12 - 10:22 am
1
2
The Judge NEVER guarantees

The Judge NEVER guarantees any kind of sentence...only the DA can guarantee a reduction in charge, the Judge is never a part of that negotiation.

The Judge can give any sentence he wants for the charge that is admitted to, the minimum (probation), or the maximum (jail time at x number of years)...or anything in between.

The DA can no more make promises for the Judge than I can.

Jail time was needed in this case...and it in no way compares to what David Fry did...apples and onions.

GuesS_wHU
3
Points
GuesS_wHU 03/23/12 - 10:26 am
0
1
Are you of the opinion then

Are you of the opinion then that David Fry should retain his license?

fiveobike1
65
Points
fiveobike1 03/23/12 - 10:29 am
0
0
the Da and the Defense

the Da and the Defense attorney negotiate a plea, then bring it to a judge who ok's it or nixes it.. 9 times out of 10 is the DA brings him a plea they will OK it, however in this case i am with you Austin, there should have been a much harsher punishment for this proctor of the courts and he should have been held to a higher standard than the normal thug dumb enough to get caught smuggling contraband into a prison to bribe a witness..

Little Lamb
48859
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 10:30 am
1
0
Politicians look after each

Politicians look after each other and so do members of the legal system. Doctors extend professional courtesies to other doctors. Police officers look after each other. I think it is natural for the judge to go along with the District Attorney's recommendation in this case.

Little Lamb
48859
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 10:33 am
2
0
I agree with Mr. Rhodes that

I agree with Mr. Rhodes that this case and the David Fry case are quite dissimilar. I think David Fry should be allowed to retain his license to practice law so long as he meets the terms of his probation.

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:35 am
1
0
Butting into yall's

Butting into yall's discussion, the DA shouldn't make a deal for punishment that doesn't fit the crime. Don't blame the judge. Sure the judge can refuse to go along with it, but if he did that often the system would grind to a halt like a line at the DMV.

Realistically, judges leave it up to the DA to make the deals. Personally, I'd have thrown this guy in jail, but I'll stick with the DA's decision. I can see how a trial on this matter would have been very costly, time consuming and possibly impossible to prove.

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:41 am
0
0
Yeah, well, we all have

Yeah, well, we all have opinions about what penalties courts pass out. The bottom line is there are so many facets going on all we can realistically do is accept the decisions of the courts. I didn't like the Fry decision or this one, but it's the best system we have.

There was a recent murder trial in Columbia County and I didn't like the outcome, but I'll ride with what the judge and jury decided.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/23/12 - 10:59 am
0
0
It is possible I am mistaken

It is possible I am mistaken here, and if so I will correct it, but I believe this was an "open plea", in that the DA did not mention any sentencing options, leaving it the Judge's call. And in those cases, he does whatever he wants.

Little Lamb
48859
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 11:03 am
1
1
It's kind of like the U.S.

It's kind of like the U.S. Senate refusing to remove Bill Clinton from office for lying under oath. They are all in it together.

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 11:09 am
2
0
Austin, they all discuss it

Austin, they all discuss it and agree before the judge announces the decision. Trust me.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/23/12 - 11:20 am
0
1
Just talked to Ashley Wright,

Just talked to Ashley Wright, and no RM she does not ALWAYS recommend a sentence...but in this case she did...11 years probation.

She told me that even though she would have liked to have seen him get jail time, they are working diligently throughout the system to give non-violent first offenders probation and fines only.

I stand corrected and apologize to Judge Moonbeam.

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 11:27 am
2
0
"SHE" doesn't, but.... Like

"SHE" doesn't, but....

Like I said I'll go along with whatever the court decides. Again, the system would grind to a halt. They know it. Everyone knows it.

Dang, two apologies from Austin in a week. Heh.

Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 11:31 am
0
0
It usually goes like this:

It usually goes like this: "Y'all don't want to do that? Okay, we can go to trial early Monday morning."

goldenrod2004
0
Points
goldenrod2004 03/23/12 - 12:48 pm
0
0
That Mug shot is Sid Jones,

That Mug shot is Sid Jones, the lawyer and he is 59
I know, I went to school with him and also worked with him about 4 years ago.

goldenrod2004
0
Points
goldenrod2004 03/23/12 - 12:49 pm
0
0
Tyler's mug shot is also

Tyler's mug shot is also there, if you click on next

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