April 26, 2017 - 5:58 pm
Updated April 26, 2017 - 8:51 pm
Former Family Court Judge Steven Jones, who used his office to inject credibility into a multimillion-dollar investment fraud scheme, has been released from prison.
Jones, 59, was released from federal prison on April 12, after serving out a two-year sentence he received for his involvement in the 10-year fraud ring, through which he and others duped investors into pouring $2.9 million into phony projects.
The judge and his co-conspirators devised, among other things, a sham water rights project. They used the power of the his office to perpetuate the fraud and to swindle victims into writing large checks for bogus investments on which they never saw returns.
In one instance, Jones secured one of his co-conspirator’s release from custody, after the man was arrested for writing bad checks to repay one of the victims. Jones told victims, who knew he was a judge, that the project was a wise and lucrative investment. He collected cash from one of the investors in the courthouse parking lot.
The judge pleaded guilty in September 2014 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He resigned after 20 years on the bench and since has received a lifetime ban from state disciplinary commissioners.
As a judge, Jones earned a six-figure, taxpayer-funded salary. Federal prosecutors fought in court for access to his pension in order to use it to pay restitution to the victims of the fraud scheme. Under the terms of his early retirement, Jones is eligible for roughly $120,000 in annual pension benefits for the rest of his life.
A February court order authorized the federal government to collect restitution from Jones’ pension account, effective immediately. The government is entitled to take 25 percent of Jones’ monthly pension benefits after taxes to pay off restitution to victims. The court order requires the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System to withhold pension payments until Jones’ debt is paid in full.
At the time of his sentencing, Jones was ordered to join his co-defendants in paying $2.9 million in restitution.
Contact Jenny Wilson at email@example.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @jennydwilson on Twitter.