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Ex-Little Rock officer gets more than 8 years in drug case

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published October 30, 2013 at 11:16 a.m.

arkansas-democrat-gazette-chris-dean-file-former-little-rock-policeman-mark-jones-watches-traffic-on-sept-10-2007-after-a-vehicle-accident-on-kanis-road-jones-and-his-half-brother-randall-robinson-are-accused-of-escorting-what-they-believed-to-be-a-large-shipment-of-marijuana-through-the-city-while-on-duty

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette /CHRIS DEAN - FILE - Former Little Rock policeman Mark Jones watches traffic on Sept. 10, 2007, after a vehicle accident on Kanis Road. Jones and his half brother, Randall Robinson, are accused of escorting what they believed to be a large shipment of marijuana through the city while on duty.

An ex-Little Rock police officer who escorted what he believed to be a 1,000-pound shipment of marijuana through the city while on duty in 2012 has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison.

Mark Anthony Jones was ordered to serve 104 months in prison Wednesday on the second day of a sentencing hearing delayed from last week after prosecutors contended Jones lied on the stand.

Jones, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to one charge in exchange for six others being dropped, on Friday said he accepted responsibility for the crime. But he also said he did it because he was owed $6,000 by a man who was actually working as a confidential informant and that he had never done anything illegal before being set up by federal investigators.

Prosecutors took issue with that and asked for a continuance of the hearing till Wednesday, when they called the confidential informant, Brandon Hill, and played recordings of conversations between the two for U.S. District Judge James Moody to hear.

In the recordings, Jones is heard telling Hill how drug dealers should carry marijuana in motorcycles rather than cars because they're harder to chase, describing a method for stealing and reselling cars and inquiring about Hill's drug-dealing.

"I want to go into business with you," Jones said at one point on one of the recordings, adding later that he wants "to be rich" and would take a chance only for a "nice lick."

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Pat Harris called it a public corruption case and asked Moody to sentence Jones at the upper end of the guideline range, which called for up to 121 months in prison.

"The tape is the real Mr. Jones," Harris said.

Moody said he didn't feel like Jones has any remorse, noting the tapes are "entirely inconsistent" with what he said when he took the stand last week.

Defense attorneys asked for the mandatory minimum five-year sentence, but Moody said he reserves downward departures from the guidelines for defendants who show they're moving away from crime.

"I'm not persuaded Mr. Jones has convinced me of that," Moody said. "He said in no uncertain terms on this tape that this is what I'm going to do and I know how to carry it out ... I know Mr. Jones has done a lot of good over the years [as a police officer], but I'm concerned he's taken a turn for the worse."

Jones, who had been free, was taken into custody after the sentence was handed down.

Jones and his half-brother, Randall Tremayn Robinson, were arrested last year.

In Robinson's trial in July, a jury deadlocked on charges tied to the drug escort in Little Rock, though he was convicted of distributing a half-pound of marijuana in 2009. Robinson was also an officer at the time.

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 total comments

ADGtyldav says... October 30, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.

I find it inconceivable that the very guy who testified against them both has been fired from the police department for stealing federal money and was investigated. One would think that that information should have been allowed at sentencing.

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cableguy says... October 30, 2013 at 1:41 p.m.

The justice system seems to be heavy handed to any well known black figure. As a black man it is hard to ignore the countless circumstances of cops shooting black men and getting away with it, while blacks get long prison sentences for any and everything. Just wait, I bet Martha Shoffner the former Secretary of Treasurer that cost Arkansas hundreds of thousands probably only gets home confinement. The justice system sucks, period!

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snapper1 says... October 30, 2013 at 1:57 p.m.

EIGHT YEARS? DAM CHILD MOLESTER GETS 5.SOMETHING AINT RIGHT

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Populist says... October 30, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.

A police officer escorting a drug shipment? He deserved to have the book thrown at him. I do agree that white collar criminals do get away lightly, but in this case I think of a police officer as a white collar criminal--not some young black guy making a petty theft. What is truly horrible is the apathy of Little Rock toward the poor public schools and horrific crime problem. People are more concerned about bond issues which will line the pockets of rich bond lawyers, bond salesmen etc. etc. What about money for education?

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