State News

October 15, 2013

Georgia man charged with breaking NC agent law

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Another person has been charged with violating North Carolina sports agents law for providing $725 to former Tar Heels football player Robert Quinn.

Patrick Mitchell Jones, 39, real estate agent from Cartersville, Ga., made his first court appearance Monday and was released on $20,000 secured bond. In an unsealed indictment, a grand jury indicted Jones with one count of athlete-agent inducement for providing money in May 2010 through a woman identified as Constance Orr to entice Quinn to sign with agent Terry Watson.

Jones — described as Watson’s friend in a search warrant unsealed last month — is the third person charged in the case with violating the state’s agent law.

Watson, based in Marietta, Ga., has been charged with 13 counts of providing nearly $24,000 in benefits in 2010 to Quinn, Greg Little and Marvin Austin, three former Tar Heels players currently in the NFL. None of the three played a snap that season, with Quinn — a first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2011 — ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA for accepting improper benefits.

Former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley Thompson is also charged with four counts connected to providing money from Watson to Little, now with the Cleveland Browns. Austin is currently a defensive tackle with the Miami Dolphins.

Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall has said more indictments are under seal.

A.H. Jones, a special agent with the Secretary of State’s office whose name appeared on search warrants in the case, appeared before the grand jury Sept. 30. A schedule for that day’s testimony listed five defendants, though all names were redacted, during Jones’ appearance.

The grand jury returned its indictments against Thompson, Watson and Patrick Jones that same day.

Jones declined to comment after his brief court appearance Monday morning.

The North Carolina law requires agents to register with the Secretary of State’s office and is designed to shield athletes from sports agents who would offer gifts to entice them to sign representation contracts. It’s a Class I felony to violate the law here, meaning a maximum prison sentence of 15 months for each count, and violations also could carry civil penalties of up to $25,000. Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall has said anyone who doesn’t have a criminal record must be put on probation if they plead guilty or are convicted of a Class I felony.  

The charges came after more than three years of investigation by the Secretary of State’s office.

According to a probable cause affidavit in a June search warrant, Jones told an investigator in June 2012 he was Watson’s longtime friend and said he sent packages containing cash to student-athletes at Watson’s request.

Jones would either pick up money Watson wired to him to send to an address provided by Watson or mail an already prepared package from Watson that the agent said contained cash, according to the affidavit.

“Jones stated this was the only way Watson could compete with the bigger athlete agents and their companies,” agent A.H. Jones’ affidavit states.

Austin had told investigators he received $2,000 in a FedEx package from Watson. Patrick Jones’ name and address appeared as the sender on that package in May 2010. Phone records showed 11 calls between Watson and Jones on the day the package was sent, according to the affidavit.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

 

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