Former Mount Carmel Mayor Christopher “Chris” Scott Jones was arrested again on Thursday, July 30, which makes his fourth arrest this year.
On Thursday morning, Jones was served with a sealed Hawkins County grand jury indictment for one count of felony official misconduct. This charge stems from the same allegation that cost him his Mayoral seat.
In June, Mount Carmel City Attorney John Pevy filed an official writ of ouster against Jones and former Alderman Carl Wolfe, alleging that the two had misused the official town seal in an effort to have Jones’ girlfriend at the time, Amber Page Hale, evicted from her home.
According to Assistant Third Judicial District Attorney Akiah Highsmith, a special grand jury was paneled Wednesday to hear allegations against Jones and returned the felony official misconduct indictment, which was served on Thursday afternoon.
Wolfe has cooperated with authorities since the beginning of this investigation, and Highsmith told the Review that he will not be charged. He did, however, resign from his seat as Alderman.
Jones was released from jail later on July 30.
Mayor and Alderman “conspire” to create fake eviction notice
Pevy, who is both the city’s attorney and ethic’s officer, alleged within his writ of ouster and suspension that Jones and Wolfe “conspired” to create an unlawful eviction notice using the town’s official seal.
Jones was arrested for domestic assault on May 28 at the home on 337 Hemlock Street in Mount Carmel that Jones rented from Wolfe.
When Jones was released from jail on June 1 he “was rendered effectively homeless,” as the writ of ouster reads, because his alleged assault victim, Amber Hale was still living at the home, and Jones was ordered to have no contact with her.
Jones allegedly drafted the eviction notice on June 2 on his desktop computer within his City Hall office.
“In the presence of Mount Carmel police officers, Jones stated that under the auspices of making the unlawful eviction document ‘look more official’ he would stamp it with the town of Mount Carmel official seal,” Pevy stated in the ouster notice. “Jones requested the town’s official seal from the Mount Carmel Court Clerk without informing her of the use for which it was to be utilized, and he was provided with the seal owing to his position as the mayor of Mount Carmel.”
Pevy added, “Thereafter, Jones affixed the Town of Mount Carmel’s official seal to the eviction notice document while in the direct presence of a Mount Carmel police officer, the City Administrator, and Alderman Wolfe, though neither the police officer nor the City Administrator were fully cognizant of the purpose to which the Mayor was putting the Town’s seal.”
At some point later, Hale then discovered the eviction notice, which had been posted to the house’s door.
“At no point were either Jones or Wolfe in their official capacity as members of the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen, authorized to carry out eviction proceedings, nor to emboss personal documents with the town’s official seal,” Pevy further states.
Jones resigned as Mayor via email on June 11, and Wolfe resigned at a BMA workshop later that evening.
Upcoming court appearances for Jones
This felony charge only adds to a long list of pending legal problems for Jones.
Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong is already prosecuting Jones on the aforementioned domestic assault charge, and Jones is set to appear in general sessions court soon on this charge.
Jones has also already been indicted by a Sullivan County grand jury on one count of felony criminal simulation and two counts of criminal impersonation. He also has a scheduled court appearance on Aug. 14 in Sullivan County regarding this charge of criminal impersonation.
These charges stem from an incident that took place on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 when Jones presented an in-authentic police badge to a loss prevention employee at the Walmart on West Stone Drive and asked to see the store’s security footage.
Jones claimed that “he was ‘with Mount Carmel and was sent here by the Police Chief to investigate a stolen van,” read the police report.
Jones also has a charge of theft over $250,000 stemming from allegations that Jones stole more than $300,000 from his elderly grandmother’s estate in West Virginia prior to her death in 2016.
During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that between November 2014 and January 2016, Jones allegedly stole the money from his grandmother and her estate by writing checks from her account to himself for false reimbursements.
He was scheduled to appear in Hawkins County Criminal Court on Wednesday on that charge, but the appearance was postponed.
There is a 2019 Hawkins County Chancery Court judgment against him in the amount of $571,000 stemming from a civil lawsuit filed by his mother and two uncles related to that same embezzlement allegation.
Jones also has a trial date of Sept. 29 in criminal court regarding this charge. There is also a motion date regarding this case on Aug. 21. Two of the pending motions to be heard on that day would revoke Jones’ bond on that case. If this motion is upheld, that means Jones would go back to jail until his trial date.
Theft over $250,000 is a Class A Felony punishable by 15-25 years in prison if found guilty.
Armstrong also agreed to join Pevy’s ouster action against Jones and Wolfe. Jones will likely be arraigned on Aug. 28 for the charge of felony official misconduct, and the judge will set a trial date at that time. If he is found guilty of this class E felony, Jones could face one to two years in prison with a 30% release eligibility.