Former City Hall tech chief Jones gets 2 years probation

Anthony Jones Show caption
Anthony Jones

Jones admitted accepting payoffs in bribery scheme

Anthony Jones, one of two chief technology officers under former Mayor Ray Nagin to admit taking bribes, was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation by U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr.

Jones pleaded guilty in 2010 to accepting $22,000 in payoffs from City Hall technology vendor Mark St. Pierre in exchange for helping expedite payment of St. Pierre’s outstanding invoices.

The following year, St. Pierre was convicted of 53 counts of bribery — mostly involving his dealings with Greg Meffert, Nagin’s first technology chief and Jones’ former boss — and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Jones helped secure the conviction, testifying for the government at St. Pierre’s trial.

Jones also helped the feds convict Dwaine Hodges, a St. Pierre employee who pleaded guilty to acting as a go-between for the bribes. Hodges is due to be sentenced Feb. 20.

After Jones pleaded guilty, his sentencing was delayed nine times, court records show. Prosecutors sought those delays because Jones was “cooperating with the government in the investigation of past criminal activity” — cooperation they said might cause them to seek a reduction in Jones’ sentence.

They wound up doing just that, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Pickens arguing forcefully Wednesday for leniency. Pickens blamed some of Jones’ misdeeds on an alcohol problem — Jones was booked with domestic violence in 2009 and with DWI in 2012 — and said he has completed a rehabilitation program. He also touted Jones’ service in the U.S. military.

Jones, by comparison, said little. “Your Honor, I want to apologize to the city of New Orleans,” Jones said. “I’m ashamed of what I’ve done.”

Quietly, he added that it is very difficult for him to tell his 8-year-old daughter that he is a felon.

Jones’ lawyer, Ammon Miller, called Jones “an asset to society” and suggested that his biggest mistake was getting caught up with “some crooked contractors at City Hall.”

Duval called public corruption “anathema” to the court. “It’s violating the public trust; it’s a serious offense,” he said.

But, as he imposed the sentence, he added: “I find the stigma of being a convicted felon and being on probation for two years is sufficient penalty for this man, who was a very minor player in this scheme.”

Jones had faced a maximum of five years in prison.

While Jones got credit from prosecutors for helping them nab Hodges and St. Pierre, some of his cooperation was related to the federal investigation of Nagin, a probe that resulted in the former mayor’s indictment in January on more than 20 corruption-related charges.

It’s unclear whether Jones will be a witness against Nagin, who is set to go to trial in late January. The crimes Jones admitted do not relate directly to the former mayor, although Nagin’s trial is expected to include allegations that he and Meffert allowed St. Pierre to rip off the technology department, and then accepted gifts and bribes from him.

Meffert and St. Pierre are both expected to testify. Meffert, who has yet to be sentenced, faces a maximum of eight years in prison, while St. Pierre is seeking a reduction in his sentence.

Jones stepped down as chief technology officer in 2008 after 18 months in the job, returning to his former city post as director of management information systems. His tenure as technology chief was marred by controversies, including his false claim to have a college degree. He was fired in 2009.