Jury's Guilty Verdict Follows Belief That Jones Cash Poor

by George Waldon  on Monday, Oct. 18, 2010 12:00 am  

Before an on-camera interview, Arkansas Business suggested that its news partner, KTHV-TV, Channel 11, ask Jones if the Brockinton loan was indeed paid off as his statements implied.

Jones twice told KTHV-TV reporter Ashley Blackstone that the Brockinton mortgage was repaid and indicated the documents releasing the debt should soon appear on the public record.

But that wasn't true.

"People who don't have financial problems don't have to tell stories like that," Stripling said during closing arguments on Sept. 28.

In an interview with Arkansas Business after the KTHV interview aired, Jones explained. "I guess I just got mixed up in the interview. I was just trying to communicate that the loan was taken care of, that it wasn't overdue."

But the loan had been overdue until Brockinton agreed to extend the terms to give Jones more time to come up with the needed cash to pay it off.

Al Hamilton, a forensic accountant hired by the prosecution, determined that the Joneses were having liquidity problems no matter what their personal financial balance sheet said.

"I don't care how much you're worth [on paper]," Hamilton said. "If you can't make a payment the next month, you're in dire straits."

His investigation uncovered 59 instances of a negative daily balance on personal bank accounts for the Joneses and 69 instances of late fees charged on Jones accounts in the months preceding the fire.

Loans from relatives and partners are what kept the Joneses solvent during 2008, according Hamilton's testimony.

Spears, Jones' law and business partner, testified under cross-examination by the prosecution that he lent money to Jones before and after the house fire. Spears described a real estate market that had slowed, causing their projects to generate much less cash.

"Aaron really wasn't doing anything else to make income at the time," Spears said. "Things had turned down substantially."



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