New York woman faces new charges after prostitution arrest

Shannon Owens, 27, of New York City at first refused to identify herself to police. — Photo courtesy of Dukes County Sheriff's Department

The woman Edgartown police arrested last week on assault, larceny, and prostitution charges will return to Edgartown District court on Friday, October 5 to face new charges.

At the time of her arrest on the morning of September 26, Shannon Owens, 27, of New York City at first refused to identify herself to police.

During questioning the day after her arrest, Ms. Owens identified herself as Brianna Owens, 20, of Providence, Rhode Island.

The deception was not discovered until Brianna Owens, Ms. Owens’s younger sister, saw the account of her sister’s arrest in The Times and called Edgartown Police. She told police that her older sister, Shannon, had asked her to care for her child and then left for Martha’s Vineyard.

Shannon Owens will now face charges of obstruction of justice, fugitive from justice, and giving a false name or Social Security number, following an arrest. She will also be arraigned on the original charges, this time under her correct name.

Bail for Ms. Owens was originally set at $3,000. That was revoked once police learned her real identity and that she is a fugitive from New Jersey authorities. According to police, she did not appear in court to face charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer and throwing bodily fluids at department of correction employees. Police said she has a lengthy record of assault, larceny, and prostitution, in New Jersey and New York.

She is now being held in the Dukes County Jail.

Her real identity

Shannon Owens was held for five days before authorities discovered her real identity and that she was wanted by New Jersey police.

Once arrested by any Island police department, a person is transported to the Dukes County Jail for processing, including finger printing, and held until arraignment, unless they are released on bail.

The booking procedure did not reveal Ms. Owens’s true identity despite her criminal record.

Maj. Donald Rose of the Dukes County Sheriff’s Department said every person who is arrested is fingerprinted, and those fingerprints are transmitted electronically to several state and federal databases. If the person is wanted for crimes in another jurisdiction, the jail officers are notified.

“There’s a process before they notify you,” Maj. Rose said. “It could take hours before we get a report back. It’s not meant to be an immediate way to identify somebody. When this individual was fingerprinted, the machine came back with an error message. It wouldn’t transmit those prints.”

Ms. Owens was arrested, along with Gabriel Rios-Leon, of Rockaway, New Jersey, after the pair assaulted a man in his house on 18th Street in Edgartown.

According to police reports, the victim invited Ms. Owens to his home, after he responded to an ad on Craigslist, an online classified forum, for escort services. He told police he paid Ms. Owens $1,800 for sex.

Police said the pair robbed the victim of some property and left his house. A short time later, they got into a confrontation with a neighbor and smashed that man’s car window.

Mr. Rios-Leon is now being held on $5,000 bail at the Dukes County Jail. He was arrested on drug charges in New Jersey in February.

He denied any involvement in prostitution or theft and told police that Ms. Owens had “invited him to go to Martha’s Vineyard to visit a friend of hers.”

Asked by police why he was carrying approximately $3,000 in cash at the time of his arrest, he said “that he had never been to Martha’s Vineyard before, so he didn’t know how much money he needed.”

The victim has not been charged. Cape and Islands assistant district attorney Laura Marshard declined comment because the case remains open and under investigation. “We will continue to evaluate the case to determine if more charges are appropriate,” she said.

In general, when prosecutors determine what charges to bring against people involved in a case, they usually pursue the most serious charges. In this case, larceny and assault are felonies, while sexual conduct for a fee is a misdemeanor.