The Investigators: Good Ol' Boys

The Investigators: Good Ol' Boys
Former mayor Charles Martin (Source: WAFB)
Former mayor Charles Martin (Source: WAFB)
Ex-police Chief James Jones (Source: WAFB)
Ex-police Chief James Jones (Source: WAFB)

SPRINGFIELD, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana's small towns are infamous for the "good ol' boy" system. In Springfield, two officials who should have resigned, may have figured out a way to skirt the system and in one case, even continue to get paid after he resigned.

James Jones, or Jimmy as he's called, was the Springfield police chief until he accepted a plea deal from the Attorney General's office for his part in covering up a woman's DWI in April 2011.

The chief faced four felonies, obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice, injuring public records and criminal conspiracy to injure public records. With the plea deal, those felonies were reduced to only one misdemeanor, criminal mischief, and the six months of jail time was suspended.

But in order to get that deal, Chief Jimmy Jones had to immediately resign from the Springfield Police Department, which he said he resigned after his hearing on April 28th, 2015.

The very next day at work, April 29th, there was a secretly recorded conversation between then Mayor Charlie Martin, Ex-chief Jimmy Jones and the Assistant Police Chief Randy Linder.  Linder said he made the recording.

MAYOR MARTIN: Just so you know, Jimmy's not the chief of police anymore. He's ugh SP 8

Even though he supposedly resigned in April, a "call out" list appeared to show the former chief was still part of the department in May.  SP 8 was assigned to Jimmy Jones, who, according to prosecutors, should not be on the schedule at all.

MAYOR MARTIN: Jimmy's going to be worked into the schedule.
ASST. CHIEF LINDER: I'm assuming you're going to keep day shift huh?
ASST. CHIEF LINDER: I'm assuming you keeping day shift.

The department's May schedule showed that SP 8 worked day-shift on May 1st and then again on May 4th. But then things suddenly changed. Schedules after that did not include the former chief. Assistant Chief Linder questioned why.

ASST. CHIEF LINDER: I saw Jimmy's not on, he didn't put himself on the schedule. I don't know....Is he still SP 8? I don't know...
MAYOR MARTIN: He's on leave of absence. That's all I can tell you.

The 9News Investigators found records of two paychecks made out to Jimmy Jones after his resignation date of April 28, 2015.

One was from May 13th in the amount of $1,280.79 and another on May 27th for $928. It's not clear if the paychecks were for work done prior to his resignation.

As part of the plea deal, Jones is on one year of unsupervised probation and if there are no violations, he can try to get the charge wiped off his record, known as expungement.

Since then, Steve Meyers was named interim police chief but he too resigned in October, and said he had enough of people "sweeping things under the rug."

As part of the same case, the mayor of Springfield, Charlie Martin, also took a plea deal and resigned. His brother-in-law, Thomas Abels, is now serving as mayor.

Abels is part of more secret recordings from September. Then interim police chief Steve Meyers said he made these recordings, and handed them over to the 9News Investigators. In the recordings, it appears Abels appears to be holding open a spot for the former police chief to return to the force.

MAYOR ABELS: Jimmy talked to me the other day and he said he is interested in coming back.
MAYOR ABELS: Whether as a policeman or or or a chief, either one and ugh, so I 'd like to leave a place open to where he can come back as something.
MAYOR ABELS: I just want to leave a place open for him you know cause
MAYOR ABELS: I think it's the right thing to do.

But the mayor pointed out that Jones first has to get his record expunged.

MAYOR ABELS: He called me the other day...said you know he definitely wants to come back. He won't know anything till October.

The 9News Investigators went to Springfield to track down Jones.

Kiran: Are you trying to come back to the Springfield police department as police chief?
Jones: No comment.
Kiran: Are you trying to come back at all to the police department?
Jones: No comment.
Kiran: Did you get paid any paychecks after you left the police department?
Jones: No comment.
Kiran: Will you say anything?
Jones: I haven't said anything in 4.5 years. I ain't going to talk now. Y'all have a nice day.

The former mayor's plea deal indicates he cannot have any say in how the town operates. When the 9News Investigators went looking for him in October, we found him at City Hall.

Kiran: Are you planning to come back here as mayor?
Martin: Nope.
Kiran: Is your brother-in-law the current mayor?
Martin: (drove off without answering)

David Caldwell with the Attorney General's office was not available for an interview but issued a statement.

The State requested a contradictory hearing after the completion of the probationary period to ensure that the defendant complied with the  terms of the plea and the sentence.  Any provable allegations of noncompliance with the court's order would be brought to the attention of the court on or before the expiration of the probationary period.

Jones' probationary period ends on April 28, 2016.
Caldwell said if either man returns to their positions or violates any of their plea deals, the state has two options: to enforce the six months of jail time or withdraw the plea deal altogether and go to trial.

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