Ricki Lee Jones of Wood River would like to avoid a federal prison sentence but he can’t get out of a divorce trial that could hurt worse than prison.
On April 1 Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey denied his March 30 motion to continue the trial of his divorce action against Dorothy Jones.
As of April 7 Bailey planned a four-day trial starting April 13.
Rick Jones’s attorney, David Fahrenkamp, argued in the motion for delay that Jones agreed to an April trial because he expected to go to prison on May 7.
“Since then, the petitioner has been advised that he will not be taken into custody that day and that, in the event he is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, he will be permitted to voluntarily surrender at a time estimated to be several weeks after the sentencing,” Fahrenkamp wrote.
“At sentencing it will be determined whether the petitioner will serve a term of imprisonment and, if so, for how long,” he wrote.
Jones pleaded guilty in January to charges that he failed to pay federal income tax on money he swindled from the BP Amoco refinery in Wood River.
His plea agreement provided plenty of room to escape a stiff sentence.
He promised to testify before any grand jury or at any trial on all criminal activity he knows about, whether it involved him or not.
If he doesn’t cooperate, prosecutors can tear up the plea agreement.
In the motion to delay the trial, Fahrenkamp also sought more time for himself.
He wrote that Dorothy Jones made admissions about her role as financial officer for the marital business in a March 27 deposition.
The deposition “changes the manner in which petitioner is preparing for trial,” he wrote.
He also urged Bailey to wait for information that would come out at sentencing.
The court will determine joint tax liability for Rick and Dorothy, he wrote, “as well as the exact amount of any restitution for billing errors committed by the parties’ marital business of which the wife Dorothy Jones was a principal and secretary/treasurer.”
Bailey responded that the case “remains set as previously calendared.”
When Jones pleaded guilty he stipulated that he spent BP money on himself from 2002 to 2005.
He agreed to pay $2.4 million in taxes and $1.2 million in restitution to BP.
BP removed Triad from the cleanup in 2005 after discovering pollution in soil it had paid Triad to clean.
The divorce trial could yield more truth about the refinery mess than regulators at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency have shared with taxpayers.
Dorothy Jones’s attorney, Erin Reilly, advised Bailey on April 2 that she would call former BP environmental director Greg Jevyak as a witness.
She also plans to call former Triad manager Jeff Heintz and cleanup subcontractors Paul Stumpf of Stumpf Construction, Jim Keller of Keller Construction and James Kennedy of Kennedy Cleaning.