Mayor: ‘I expect to be exonerated’

Town of Cleveland

Cleveland mayor Jerry Jones opened last Thursday’s council meeting with a statement addressing the grand jury indictment charging him with two ethics violations.

“I intend to make this one statement about the two ethics charges that have been filed against me,” Jones said. “I intend to vigorously defend myself against these charges. I have confidence in the legal system and look forward to my day in court. I expect to be exonerated.

“The complaint against me wasn’t filed until May of last year, only weeks before time for me to qualify for my most recent term as mayor. I was not made aware of the complaint until the week preceding my election as mayor. Since then, I have cooperated fully with the investigation.

“I have served the Town of Cleveland as its mayor for over a decade. During my tenure, with the help of the town’s active council, we have made a lot of progress here in Cleveland, but there is work yet to be done. I intend to continue serving as mayor until such time as the town council asks me to resign.”

Before Jones could move any further into his monthly report to the council, council member James Sullivan made a motion “to give Mayor Jones our vote of confidence.” Doug Hill seconded the motion. All five council members voted yes with Jones abstaining.

The grand jury indictment charges Jones with two counts of using his position as mayor for personal gain. Count one attests that Jones used bid information to benefit himself while count two states that Jones “did intentionally use or cause to be used equipment, facilities, time, materials, human labor, or other public property under his discretion or control for the private benefit or business benefit of himself or any other person, or principal campaign committee… which would materially effect Jerry Lynn Jones financial interest…”

Jones turned himself in last Tuesday immediately bonding out. Blount County Circuit Judge Steven King had set bail at $20,000. Also on Tuesday, Judge King formally recused himself.

The charges stem from an Alabama Ethics Commission investigation that concluded last fall. The Commission stated at the time that “based on evidence as presented to the Commission, there exists cause to hold that Jerry Jones violated the Alabama Ethics Law.”

The Commission sent the case to the Blount County District Attorney’s office for further review and it was presented to the grand jury March 29 with the indictment filed by the court March 30. Arraignment is set for June 23.

In other business, the council passed Resolution 2021-09, which provides Tier II employees with Tier I benefits. They also approved a maintenance contract with Stream South Communications for the annual review of the town’s phone system and video support.

The council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.