SPRINGFIELD, LA (WAFB) - Springfield Police Chief James Jones took a plea deal Tuesday, in lieu of going to trial, on multiple felony charges.
The Office of the Louisiana Attorney General gave both Jones and Mayor Charles Martin the option to plea down to a misdemeanor and resign from their positions instead of going to trial.
Both were indicted in 2012 for allegedly using their positions to help reduce a woman's DWI charge. The duo faced four felonies each. They are charged with obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice, injuring public records and criminal conspiracy to injure public records.
Chief Jones pleaded guilty to one count of criminal mischief, which is a misdemeanor. The four felony charges against him were dropped. As part of the plea deal, he had to immediately resign his position as police chief. He also has to serve 32 hours of community service and one year of probation. After a year of probation, he has the option to request an expungement from the court.
The maximum sentence for the criminal mischief charge is six months in jail or a fine of up to $500, but was suspended for Jones.
In April 2011, a then Springfield police officer pulled over a woman named Tyra Jones for allegedly driving the wrong way along LA 22 in Livingston Parish. Records show Jones blew a 0.185 BAC, which is more than twice the legal limit.
According to investigators, at the request of the mayor, the chief asked his officer to reduce the DWI charge to a lesser charge of reckless operation. Fearing retaliation, the officer reduced the DWI to a reckless operation citation.
The position of Police Chief is appointed, and there is no word on when an interim police chief will be appointed.
Martin's trial is scheduled to begin on June 15. The Attorney General is trying to get Martin's trial date moved up.