Jones and Lakin



Six months after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges, Ricki Jones of Wood River will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert in federal court in Benton at 10 a.m., July 16.

The Madison County businessman, who contracted with BP Amoco in 2002 to clean up contaminated soil near its Wood River refinery, faces maximum penalties of five years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three years' supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.

In January, Jones admitted to dodging $1.2 million in 2003 taxes. He also admitted that he evaded a similar amount before and after 2003.

In his plea agreement, he stipulated that his company, Triad Industries, spent money it received from BP Amoco to clean up refinery pollution, in other ways.

According to the plea agreement, he is required to pay restitution of $1,207,415.82 to BP Amoco North America, on top of a promise to pay $2.4 million in federal income taxes for 2002 through 2005, on sentencing day.

However, a Madison County associate judge overseeing Rick Jones's divorce from his wife, Dorothy Jones, has already authorized payment of Jones's restitution.

Judge Duane Bailey, who has since been reassigned from the Jones divorce case, signed an order June 26 stating that Rick Jones and Dorothy Jones must pay taxes and penalties resulting from audits of their joint accounts or tax returns.

"A new wrinkle in all these matters is the testimony of Mr. Jones, that he has received a letter entitled to both him and Ms. Jones from the United States Internal Revenue Service," Bailey wrote. "The letter indicates the audits which are ongoing include issues of fraud, penalties, interests and fines."

Bailey wrote that both parties – Rick Jones and Dorothy Jones – have given each other "an out" to claim "innocence in the possibility of fraud."

"Mr. Jones indicates there is a possibility the dollar amount required by the United States Internal Revenue Service in order to relieve the Jones' from any further liability would range from 1.3 million dollars to as high as 6 million dollars," Bailey wrote.

Jones was originally scheduled to be sentenced April 23. Sentencing was continued to May 28, and again to July 16.

"Defendant Rick Jones has been cooperating with the Government and that cooperation is not yet completed," according to a court document filed in May. According to his plea agreement, Jones can earn a shorter sentence by cooperating "fully" with the government.

Jones also stated he needed more time before sentencing to resolve civil tax liabilities, such as penalties and interest.

He is represented by James Martin of St. Louis and William Stiehl, Jr. of Belleville.

Falls from grace

Jones is yet another prominent Madison County figure to fall far.

His friend and former colleague, Tom Lakin, is serving a six-year sentence in federal prison at Forrest City Federal Correctional Complex in eastern Arkansas, a low security facility housing male offenders. Lakin, founder of the busiest class action firm in Madison County -- Lakin Law Firm -- pleaded guilty to drug charges in October 2008, including supplying cocaine to children.

Lakin was well connected politically and a major contributor to Democratic candidates.

In 2005, Jones and Lakin posed together as cover models for a calendar, "Real Men of the Riverbend." The photo, which shows the two men sparring in a mock boxing duel -- Jones as a Republican and Lakin as a Democrat -- was taken at Deer Park in Wood River, an area slated for contaminated soil clean up by Jones's company, Triad Industries.

Jones and Lakin also have been involved together in Malibu, Calif. real estate, according to the web site,

The site showed that two condos at 26666 Seagull Way, offered for sale at $1,599,000 and $1,398,000, are owned by the Lakin Childrens Trust and L. Thomas Lakin. Jones is trustee.

The same site shows a transaction history for a Malibu home Tom Lakin purchased for $3.2 million in 2003. While property values were already spiraling downward, the property was sold by Brad Lakin, Tom Lakin's son and the president of the renamed firm LakinChapman, to a corporation, Mmhim, Inc. for $6.5 million on Feb. 4, 2008.

In recent years, another former Lakin Law Firm lawyer also stumbled into federal prison. Gary Peel was found guilty in federal court in November 2007 of bankruptcy fraud, child pornography and obstruction of justice.

Peel was the Lakin firm's leading class action attorney.

He was prosecuted for blackmailing his ex-wife Deborah Peel with nude photos taken of her 16-year-old sister in 1974. He is serving a 12-year sentence at Ashland Federal Correctional Institution, a low security institution housing male inmates with a satellite camp that houses minimum security inmates.

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