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Murray man pleads guilty to federal conspiracy charges

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Department of Justice
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Memphis Federal Building

A Murray man pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge to commit wire fraud in a case that’s been in the court system since 2019.

Charles A. “Chuck” Jones and his attorney, Lorna McClusky, signed the plea agreement with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Jan. 21 and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tony R. Arvin and Murre M. Foster finalized the agreement earlier this week.

Chuck Jones
MSU
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Chuck Jones

Jones was indicted on criminal conspiracy charges to commit wire fraud along with Mark J. Whitaker in February of 2019. A district court news release said Jones was the part-owner of what were two technology companies, Technology Associates Inc. and Integrated Computer Solutions Inc.

Prosecutors with the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Tennessee allege the pair helped defraud the E-Rate program, a federal initiative that provides schools and libraries funding for telecommunications and internet access.

It went on to state the pair had conspired with an individual identified as “A.J.,” saying that Jones allegedly gave money and other valuable things to in return for their assistance. The release also said they used “A.J.’s” position with schools in Crockett County, Tennessee, and in another school district in Missouri to violate the E-rate Program’s rules. This, the release explained, allegedly enabled the pair to submit fabricated documents and make false statements and representations to the E-rate Program administrator, including the assertion that Jones’ companies invoiced schools for the correct copayment totals.

Whitaker pleaded guilty in February 2020 to misprision of wire fraud.

The agreement says Jones is voluntarily entering a guilty plea to count one of the superseding indictment, charging him with the conspiracy to commit wire fraud. This charge carries a maximum statutory punishment of imprisonment for not more than 20 years, a fine of no more than $250,000, a period of supervised release for not more than five years and a mandatory special assessment of $100.

Jones “agrees that he is entering a voluntary plea of guilty to Count One of the Second Superseding Indictment because he is, in fact, guilty of the offense charged in Count One,” the plea document says.

Documents show the court agrees to impose a sentence of no more than 18 months of prison time for Jones, and that could be argued down to a lesser sentence. Jones will have his sentencing hearing on June 1.

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
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