In his last season at the school in Cape Girardeau, Mo., the Redhawks finished with a forgettable 5-7 record. But Jones stuck to his studies and graduated with a degree in criminal justice.
He played professionally in the now-defunct National Indoor Football League, leading the Fayetteville Guard in tackles and interceptions in 2006, according to a league blog, but he quit the team before a playoff game. The reason? To enter the police academy in New York City.
On his NYPD application, Jones listed his criminal justice degree and his gridiron work. And to a question about distinguishing markings on his body, he responded, "I got a tattoo on the right side of my back ... Lord's Prayer on a scroll."
The application offers nothing especially remarkable, nothing to explain Jones' next move.
Orozco believes Jones went to work for the Intelligence Division "right out the academy." Jones declined to be interviewed. His family declined comment as well.
NYPD supervisors have at times plucked recruits out of the police academy and given them special training to become undercover investigators. But police officials, citing privacy rules, declined to discuss his employment history.
In court documents, the NYPD confirmed only that Jones had been an Intelligence Division undercover who used aliases. His defense claimed that he also had permission to get a New Jersey driver's license using a fake name.
Two former NYPD officials familiar with Jones told The Associated Press that one of his assignments was to monitor the Nation of Islam — part of the Intelligence Division's effort to monitor groups considered to have extreme political agendas. Since the ex-officials weren't authorized to speak about the case, both spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Jones' journal offered murky clues. He described having "orders from my captain not to let anyone know I was in Las Vegas" — but no clue what for. Another time, he was on the road because "we got a lead from an informant that someone we were investigating would be in the LA area."
Still another trip took him to Miami. At a nightclub there, he wrote, he introduced his girlfriend to a "friend" — actually another undercover on assignment with him. "I didn't pay for my flight to Miami," he said. "It was paid for by the unit."
The girlfriend, he wrote knew him only as Kelvin Johns — not Jones — and the deceit was not his only regret. He worried that someday he was "going to get shot."
Still, he reasoned, "This NYPD career is just a stepping stone for me." He saw it leading to future job in federal law enforcement.
Though Jones told his lawyer that his supervisors "loved him," one of the former police officials who spoke to the AP said Jones proved unreliable and difficult to supervise. And at some point, the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau began investigating allegations he gave protection to drug dealers in exchange for cash or narcotics, court records say.
Internal investigators noted his lifestyle, flashy for someone on an officer's salary. Witnesses described how he drove a BMW sedan, wore expensive clothes, owned a condo and, according to his girlfriend, Sahar Saidi, bankrolled her Spanish studies in South America.
"This is the kind of person I know Kelvin to be — thoughtful, considerate and generous," she wrote in a letter of support to the court.
The NYPD revealed a different view when it reassigned him from Intelligence to regular duty. But if the idea was to neutralize him, it didn't work.
In his new assignment, Jones met officers already making a mockery of the department's "New York's Finest" moniker.
He learned that two patrolmen were routinely robbing prostitutes and brothels, according to trial testimony. Jones sought out one, Brian Checo, to get in on the action.
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