Former state legislator Charles D. Jones of Monroe, with the help of friends and family, recently resumed the practice of law after being disbarred and serving time in federal prison.
Jones, who served as a state representative and state senator for almost three decades beginning in 1980, was disbarred by the state Supreme Court in September 2013 retroactive to September 2010 after being convicted on three felony charges in federal court.
He was found guilty after a six-day trial in August 2010 on one count of tax evasion and two counts of making and subscribing a false tax return. He was sentenced to serve 27 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $305,174. Prosecutors had asked that he be sentenced to 41 months.
Jones was first admitted to the bar in 1975 after graduating from Southern University Law School in Baton Rouge. According to Louisiana Supreme Court documents, Jones had been “admonished or privately reprimanded on eight occasions for neglecting legal matters, failing to communicate with clients, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to cooperate in disciplinary investigations.” All of these proceedings occurred between 1988 and 1991.
Jones, who is now 67, remained in trouble with the state Attorney Disciplinary Board throughout his career, having faced a private formal reprimand, six admonitions and two periods of suspension for disciplinary offenses, official records from the Supreme Court show. The records also show that the Attorney Disciplinary Board left him an opening to return to the practice of law by stating his offenses did not meet criteria for a permanent disbarment.
Jones told The Ouachita Citizen that God had blessed him with caring family, friends and former legislative colleagues who wrote letters and testified on his behalf during a Monroe hearing by the board in January when his license was restored.
Those mentioned were retired Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones, who wrote a letter in support of Jones, and current District Attorney Steve Tew, who received a subpoena to testify at the hearing.
Others testifying at the hearing were Rosiland Jones Lewis (daughter), retired Fourth District Court Judge Benjamin Jones (Charles Jones’ brother), Third Judicial District Attorney John Belton, Judge James Garland Smith and Eva Wilson.
Others writing letters in support of Jones included Judge Freddie Pitcher Jr., attorney John Hoychick Jr., attorney W. James Singleton, attorney Mike Small, attorney Allyn Stroud, District Attorney James Stewart, retired Judge Jimmy Dimos, who served in the state Legislature with Jones, and retired Judge Wilford Carter.
While in federal prison in Florida, Jones said he directed the prison’s choir and also taught 28 men who passed their GED tests and received diplomas.
“By the time I did that, it was time for me to get out,” he said.
After returning to Monroe, he formed a consulting firm that dealt with health care and education. He said his biggest accomplishment was graduating from United Theological Seminary and Bible College with a Masters of Theology degree. He is an assistant pastor at Lone Wa Worship Center in Monroe.
“Over the last two years I have preached at 90 different churches in seven states,” Jones said. “I’ve been real busy and really blessed.”
Tew said he testified at the Monroe hearing, telling the court that Jones had apparently influenced his children, Rosiland and Fred, to become lawyers.
Both worked as assistant district attorneys, as did Tew, under Jerry Jones’ leadership.
“I figured a man his age needed his license back to help pay off that restitution of $300,000,” Tew said.
Jerry Jones said he did not want to offer any comments beyond his letter, which spoke of how Charles Jones was always willing to help with legislation supported by the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.
Charles Jones was once the Legislator Most Likely to End Up in Jail, as described by a columnist with The Times-Picayune.
James Gill reported that the IRS garnished Charles Jones’ checks while he served in the House and continued to garnish them after being elected to the Senate in 1991.
Over a 15-year period he was docked $213,000. Now, to keep his license he must continue making monthly payments to pay off the $300,000 restitution he owes the government.
But Jones says he still feels “blessed by God. I’m good. I’m fine.”