Republican candidate for sheriff charged with assaulting deputy

by Jordan Green

Voters in the Republican primary for Guilford County sheriff have a choice between a 16-year incumbent who has become a virtual GOP institution in the county and… a guy with pending charges for assaulting a government official and making a threatening phone call?

“I’ve been talking about our Second Amendment rights and how the local government is trying to violate those rights,” said the 37-year-old Jones, who is the owner of ReMulch in Pleasant Garden. “What happened to me, I want to make sure that never happens again, and if it does, that the local government is held accountable.”

Jones’ misdemeanor charges stem from an encounter on Jan. 9, 2009, when Deputy AB Martin tried to serve a civil summons on his wife, Robin Jones. A magistrate’s order alleges that Jones stepped back, reached for his gun and warned Martin: “Don’t piss me off.”

Jones said after he placed his hand on his pistol he turned to walk away from Martin, who was sitting in his car.

Jones entered his name in the sheriff’s race on the last day of filing, and will face incumbent BJ Barnes in the Republican primary on May 4.

Court records also allege that during a phone conversation with dispatcher C. Moore, Jones said, “You’ve got a deputy out here getting ready to get his hind end in trouble.”

Jones recalls it differently. Jones said he told the dispatcher that “if the officer went and did something like that to someone on alcohol and drugs, he would get his hind end in trouble.”

Jones is scheduled to be in court on April 12 for the charges. The defendant said he expects the charges to be dropped, and is considering a civil lawsuit against the sheriff’s office for violation of his Second Amendment rights.

Following the arrest, Guilford County Chief District Court Judge Joseph E. Turner ordered Jones to surrender all pistols, shotguns and permits to the sheriff’s office prior to release. If acquitted, the firearms will be returned to the defendant.

In imposing the $5,000 bond, Magistrate JB Antonelli stated that since late November 2008, “defendant has received 9 pistol permits, 4 of them issued this week.”

Jones disputes the allegation, stating that he had three permits and one pistol. He said the courts seized three long guns from him, which do not require a permit, and he questions how the sheriff’s office knew that he had them. Jones said that he has aired his grievance on 94.5 Rush Radio, a local conservative talk station.

“My complaint will be based on them taking the long guns,” Jones said. “They violated my Second Amendment rights. Clear as a bell.”

More than a week before the arrest, sheriff’s office personnel were on the alert for Jones.

Lt. Cameron Piner, assigned to the District 3 office, wrote in an e-mail to several colleagues on Dec. 30, 2008: “Yesterday, a Scott Jones who is the manager/owner of ReMulch on Alamance Church Road near the junkyard called the [District 3] office and spoke to Mrs. Byrd. He was very irate and threatening, stating that… he was going to shoot the officers in the unmarked car who keep trespassing on his property and he would not be responsible for it.”

The officers had told Jones that they wanted to serve a warrant on an employee named David Harris.

“They kept harassing me constantly; I kept telling them that he wasn’t there,” Jones said. “They were coming to my property and coming to the back side of my property without a warrant. They’re in an unmarked SUV. You worry about your kids. I have two kids: a 15-year-old and a 9-year-old…. They were trespassing on my wife’s grandmother’s property and my neighbor’s property. It upset my neighbor, a good family friend, really, really bad. They came across his farm on foot. He called me. I said, ‘Look guys, that’s a dangerous thing to be doing when we hunt extensively on that property.”

Lt. Piner continued in his e-mail: “I want everyone to be aware of the threats to the officers by Mr. Jones in case they encounter him or receive a call to the property.” Piner concluded: “As always, please be careful.”

Two days before Jones’ arrest, Capt. Bob Gordon, who oversees the District 1 office, responded: “Prior to Mr. Jones being issued any new pistol permits I would like to speak with him. I question his good moral character after reading the info below.”

Sheriff Barnes said he doesn’t understand why Jones was unwilling to receive the civil summons on his wife’s behalf.

“The only thing Mr. Jones had to do was take the paper,” Barnes said. “The first thing Mr. Jones said was that she didn’t live there and that he didn’t live there. The deputy had ran the tags on his vehicle and confirmed that they lived there. Mr. Jones steps over to the car, and when he does, the officer says, ‘Mr. Jones, I have this.’ Mr. Jones says, ‘You’re not going to serve that because that stupid bitch…’ — I guess he was referring to the plaintiff. The deputy, he takes and drops the paper at Mr. Jones’ feet. That’s when Mr. Jones put his hand on his pistol and bladed towards him. Mr. Jones at that time receives a call from 911, and 911 tells the officer that Mr. Jones has called in, and says ‘there’s a deputy sheriff that’s about to get his hind end in trouble.’ Then Mr. Jones calls the District 3 office, and tells the officer manager: ‘If you don’t stop these deputy sheriffs coming out here in these unmarked cars, I’m going to shoot first and ask questions later.’” Told of the remark, Jones responded, “That’s a dangerous accusation right there.”

The alleged remark is not cited in either of the magistrate orders detailing the bases for the criminal charges.

Jones added that the deputy tried to serve the summons at his work address while the document listed his home address. He said two lawyers have told him that he could not accept the summons on behalf of his wife.

Barnes said that Jones called him to complain about the charges.

“He thought I should fire the officer,” the sheriff said. “He also wnate the case dismissed. I think he was inferring to me that he wanted to put pressure on my officer to have that done. That is just not something that is ethical.”

Again, Jones disputes the sheriff’s statement. “He doesn’t have control over dropping charges,” Jones said. “That’s not up to him that’s up to the DA. I asked him to investigate the situation.”

Jones, who was diagnosed with cancer in late 2008, had to miss a court date for the two misdemeanors last October. In a letter to the court, Dr. Firas N. Shedad wrote that chemotherapy treatments had left Jones “with a lot of side effects… including weakness, fatigue, tiredness, and leaves him a lot of times quite debilitated and unable to perform a lot of activities of daily living.”

Jones said his cancer is in remission, and the ordeal has given him a unique perspective on life.

“Having cancer will open your eyes and make you aware of things in life, situations in life,” he said. “And I have a clean bill of health right now, and I thank God every day that he empowered the doctors and nurses to help me with my cancer. I can never repay the debt to them for what they’ve done for me and my family by curing my cancer.

“A lot of people have had cancer,” he continued. “I had the same thing as Lance Armstrong.

Look at him: He’s riding everyday. It is my mission to become sheriff of Guilford County, and to run it for the citizens and make it one of the best sheriff’s departments in the United States.”

Jones said that before starting his business, he worked for 10 years as a firefighter and that he was honorably discharged as a corporal from the Army National Guard. Those experiences allowed him to work side by side with law enforcement officers. Balanced with his experience as a small business owner, Jones said his background gives him respect for both law enforcement officers and citizens.

Jones said as sheriff he would respect citizen’s rights and keep the office from overreaching its authority. The candidate said he is critical of some of the statements his opponent has made about the school resource officer program in Guilford County Schools, adding that sworn officers assigned to schools need to be accountable to the school board.

Citing two recent deaths that resulted from officer shootings, including that of Iraq war veteran Dylan Hartsfeld, Jones said he would like to see officers receive more training.

“They shot and killed a 17-year-old,” Jones said. “They shot an honorable soldier in Pleasant Garden. It’s got to come to an end.”

Jones said that as sheriff he would bring the perspective of ordinary citizens to the office.

“I am the only candidate without law enforcement experience, and that makes me the best,” he said. “It may take me awhile to get up to speed. But I will learn it. I’ll dedicate 24-7 to learning it.”