Photo: Judge Kelvin Jones
Photo Credit: Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts & Public Domain
Published April 21, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
A Nashville Circuit Court judge is under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after he admitted to several acts of misconduct in comments made during his divorce case proceedings.
The court was asked by the TBI to turn over a June 2020 deposition from Judge Kelvin Jones in which Jones admits to several potentially illegal behaviors. Jones has been a Circuit Court judge since 2014.
Judge Jones admits in the deposition to hiding nearly $100,000 in his backyard to keep the state and creditors from finding out about it. Jones had taken out a federally guaranteed loan to open a hotel in Manchester, a deal that ultimately did not pan out.
“You don’t want to have a lot of cash in accounts,” testified Jones. “because the state at some point, if you’re going to owe a bill for your hotel, can come in and garnish your account. So I didn’t want to have that much cash in an account.”
Jones also admitted to several acts of impersonation, including secretly using a phone at a local law firm to call his home and impersonate a local divorce attorney on his voicemail. He also bragged about calling a San Diego hotel and impersonating a man he believed to be having an affair with his fire to get the hotel to send him a copy of the man’s itemized bill.
A number of allegations of made regarding an invasion of privacy in regards to his wife’s email accounts.
Denise Jones accused Jones of accessing and saving a number of her work emails and email conversations between her and her attorney. Judge Jones admitted to logging into her account and forwarding dozens of her emails to himself.
Denise Jones is a vice president and legal counsel at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute. This is a gross violation of attorney-client privilege.
Jones also admitted to what could turn out to be money laundering. He testified that he owed $700,000 to a bank and convinced them to let him settle the debt for $150,000. He told courts that he got his father-in-law to agree to write the check and then deposited smaller amounts into various accounts so the bank would not question where he obtained the $150,000.
“I went to Bank of America, put in $5,000. Went to my Regions account, put in $5,000.” said Jones. “Next day, same thing. Building it up. Paid them off, gave him his money back in a month.”
Attorney Brian Manookian of Nashville filed a complaint about the information uncovered in the divorce proceedings with the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct in December. Manookian said the information proved that Jones had committed “multiple criminal acts, unethical acts, and dishonest acts in violation of the Tennessee Code of Judicial Conduct.”
Manookian also submitted his complaint to Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk who recused himself from the case and passed it on to the Tennessee District Attorney’s General Conference. Shelbyville District Attorney Robert Carter was selected by the conference to serve as special prosecutor.
Carter requested that the TBI help with an investigation in March. Agency spokesperson Susan Niland said that the TBI was not doing its own “full investigation” but was assisting the district attorney as needed.
“We have received a request from DAG Carter to assist their office in the investigation,” said Niland.
The TBI has requested access to the deposition and the “entire case file” regarding the divorce.
Court administrators have not released a comment on the situation at this time.