Crime & Public Safety

Beaufort County firefighter pleads guilty to giving alcohol to a minor

Sheldon Fire District

A Beaufort County firefighter charged with providing alcohol to minors will perform community service as part of a guilty plea Friday.

Diane Jones pleaded guilty Friday to transferring beer or wine to a minor, a misdemeanor, 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office spokesman Jeff Kidd said. Jones was a lieutenant with the Sheldon Fire District when she was charged and has since resigned.

She was given a 30-day sentence suspended to time served subject to completing 40 hours of public service by Feb. 19, according to Kidd and online court records. The charge can be expunged from Jones’ record in three years, said her attorney, Rose Mary Parham.

Jones was charged in March 2017 after police said she provided alcohol to her daughter and a neighbor’s daughter, both minors, in June 2016, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report.

A neighbor told deputies Jones was home while the two girls drank alcohol and provided law enforcement with photographs another mother found on her child’s phone, the report said.

Jones, the wife of Sheldon Fire Chief Buddy Jones, was an officer with the department leading a shift of four firefighters, according to its website. A phone message left at the fire station and on a cellphone number for Buddy Jones were not immediately returned Friday.

Diane Jones resigned her position several months ago and before that had been on administrative leave, Parham said. She had been a firefighter 25 years, Parham said.

Jones’ attorney noted that the teenagers had not been charged with possessing alcohol.

The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette do not normally name those facing misdemeanor charges unless the person holds a position of public trust.