Jones reports to prison Oct. 22

By Ann Knef | Oct 19, 2009

Jones leaves the federal courthouse in Benton following his sentencing hearing.

Ricki Lee Jones of Wood River is set to begin a 15 month prison sentence for tax evasion on Oct. 22.

Jones, who had pleaded guilty to dodging $2.4 million in taxes between 2002 and 2005, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert on July 30.

Gilbert delayed the sentence so Jones could take care of health issues.

In January, Jones admitted that his company, Triad Industries, received money from BP Amoco to clean up refinery pollution in Wood River, but spent it in other ways.

Gilbert could have tripled the sentence under federal guidelines, but he took into account Jones's cooperation in a criminal investigation.

Before his sentencing, prosecutors filed a motion to reduce Jones's sentence under seal.

Jones's lawyer, James Martin of St. Louis, said the motion was sealed because "he provided extraordinary assistance."

A day before Jones was sentenced he paid the Internal Revenue Service $2,435,092. He also came to terms with the IRS on $2.2 million in interest and penalties, due on April 15.

He paid BP Amoco $1,207,415.52 in restitution.

Toward the end of the sentencing hearing, Gilbert called Jones to the bench and asked if he had anything more to say.

"I made a terrible decision in my life," Jones said.

Gilbert asked, "Why did you do it if you knew it was wrong?"

Jones stammered about how it started and Gilbert cut him off.

"I doubt seriously that you started cheating the government in 2001," Gilbert said.

"That's just as far back as the IRS went," he said.

"You didn't wake up one day and decide to rob a bank," he said.

"You woke up every day and decided to rob the government," he said.

Jones said, "It's easy to fall into, yes it is."

Gilbert said, "You are a good person who did a bad thing.

"We have to sentence the criminal aspect of the individual, though we can take into consideration the good works you have done for the community."

He said that among the factors in sentencing, the kicker was adequate deterrence to criminal conduct.

"You paid a financial and personal penalty, but what kind of message would it send if I put you on probation?" Gilbert said. "It would send a terrible message."

Gilbert also imposed a $75,000 fine, plus $39,654 for incarceration and supervision costs.

He said the Bureau of Prisons operates medical facilities and he would recommend that Jones serve time at one.

He said he was confident that the bureau could handle Jones' health care.

Steve Korris contributed to this report.

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