New DA for Athens-Clarke, Oconee counties notches first felony conviction


Gerald Dexter Jones

By Joe Johnson

A paroled felon this week became the first offender to be convicted and sentenced under the administration of Deborah Gonzalez, whose term as the Western Judicial Circuit’s district attorney began on Jan. 1.

Gerald Dexter Jones, 50, was charged with four counts of felony theft by taking in connection with his arrest two months ago, according to an accusation filed Wednesday by Gonzalez in Clarke County Superior Court.

According to court records, Jones entered into a negotiated plea with the DA’s office in which he was sentenced to 10 years, with the first 61 days to be served in confinement at the county jail.

He was given credit for time already served in jail since being arrested on Nov. 6, and upon completing his jail sentence, Jones is to be transported to the Potters House residential addiction treatment program, where he is to remain for 12 months, according to the sentencing document that was signed Wednesday by Superior Court Judge H. Patrick Haggard.

The balance of his sentence is to be served on probation.

As part of his sentence Jones was also ordered to make total restitution of $2,308.47 to four local businesses from which he stole,according to court records.

Gonzalez was elected DA in December for the judicial circuit that includes Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties.


Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez

The former entertainment attorney who had no prior experience prosecuting criminal cases had campaigned on a platform of progressive change that includes, among other things, the elimination of cash bail for non-violent offenders and greater emphasis on programs that rehabilitate rather than punish.

Although the state Department of Corrections indicates that Jones served 11 different terms in prison, and local court records show convictions in Athens-Clarke County dating to 1991 for offenses that included theft, shoplifting, burglary and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, he has never been convicted of a crime of violence.

Jones was paroled from his most recent prison sentence on Sept. 16, according to the DOC.

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