$300k bail set for second robbery defendant

Federal charges pending; guns and masks recovered by police; $39,100 stolen from bank’s vault.


Updated Dec. 4

Two suspects in the armed Nov. 17 robbery of a Rockland Trust branch in Tisbury will face federal charges, as new details emerged indicating they attempted to burn clothing and bury guns at a West Tisbury farm, according to a press release issued Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s office. For the first time, law enforcement officials said that $39,100 was taken in the heist.

The pending federal charges were announced as Omar Odion Johnson, 39, returned to the Island from Connecticut to plead not guilty to charges of armed and masked robbery and conspiracy in Edgartown District Court. Miquel A. Jones, 30, of Edgartown, had been scheduled to be in court on Thursday to have his charge elevated from an accessory after the fact to the identical charges Johnson is facing. Jones is now due to be arraigned on Dec. 12.

The federal charges carry a potentially stiff sentence of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“According to the charging documents, on the morning of Nov. 17, 2022, three masked and armed individuals forced their way into the rear door of the Rockland Trust Bank in Tisbury. All three individuals were wearing dark-colored clothing and matching white masks that resembled an elderly man with exaggerated facial features,” the release states. “According to witnesses, each of the individuals were allegedly carrying what appeared to be semiautomatic handguns. The video surveillance also showed that one of the individuals was carrying what appeared to be a walkie-talkie. Once inside the bank, one of the individuals allegedly held a gun to the head of one of the bank employees, and forced him to open the bank’s vault. It is further alleged that the individuals entered the vault and took approximately $39,100, then bound the employees with duct tape and plastic zip ties, demanded access to one of their vehicles, and left the premises in an employee’s car.”

As The Times has previously reported, the stolen SUV was found in a parking lot about 2.3 miles from the bank. Minutes after the robbery, the individuals allegedly left the parking lot in another vehicle, the release states.

“According to the charging documents, following an investigation by law enforcement, Jones and Johnson were identified as suspects. It is alleged that subsequent searches by law enforcement resulted in the recovery of three $100 bills and clothing consistent with the individuals in Jones’ car; a black handgun from Johnson’s home; and paperwork reflecting both a money transfer to Jamaica in the approximate amount of $700 and cash deposits in the amount of $4,100 made at a bank in Connecticut in Johnson’s car,” the release states.

Both Jones and Johnson have been described in court documents as Jamaican nationals.


Friday’s court appearance

Johnson, under restraints in the dock, pleaded not guilty to armed and masked robbery and conspiracy. Judge Benjamin Barnes set Johnson’s bail at $300,000. 

Jones was arraigned Nov. 21 on a charge of being an accessory after the fact to the robbery. His bail was also set at $300,000 by Judge Barnes


During Johnson’s bail hearing, Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Michael Giardino, who participated via Zoom, provided more detail about what police have uncovered. Giardino asked for $500,000 bail, and told the court three suspects, after tying up bank employees, made off with “a significant amount of U.S. currency.”

Giardino said the robbery suspects fled in what was essentially a car stolen from one of the bank employees, The suspects later abandoned the vehicle, and surveillance footage showed a 2007 Hyundai Elantra exiting the area where the vehicle was abandoned. Police later determined the Elantra was “owned by Omar Johnson,” Giardino said. Police were able to locate that Elantra “utilizing surveillance video,” Giardino said. As the Times previously reported, that Elantra was seized by police on Beach Road in Tisbury on the night of Nov. 18. Jones was the operator of the Elantra at the time, Giordano said. 

“Mr. Jones agreed to speak to law enforcement, and during that conversation he admitted that Johnson, the defendant, was present with him on Martha’s Vineyard on Nov. 16 to Nov. 17, and that he was driving with him in the Hyundai Elantra the morning of the robbery,’ Giardino alleged.

“[S]hortly after the robbery, or sometime after the robbery,” Giardino said, surveillance revealed Johnson arrived at a parking lot near the Steamship Authority terminal in the Elantra and exited the Elantra and entered a “silver sedan, which was identified as the vehicle that Mr. Johnson drove to Martha’s Vineyard from … New Hampshire.” Police later connected Johnson to the silver sedan, Giardino said.

Jones gave police permission to look at his cell phone, Giardino said, which yielded “text messages of significance,” including a line that allegedly stated we’re on “a little mission.”

Giardino said deleted Google searches by Jones allegedly contained searches for “security measures at a bank and security measures used to combat bank robbery.”

Johnson allegedly admitted to being on Martha’s Vineyard on Nov. 16 and meeting up with Jones and “another individual,” Giardino said, and that he left the Vineyard on Nov. 17.

Cellular location information for Johnson’s and Jones’ phones, Giardino said, shows the two tracking together on Nov. 16, including behind the Rockland Trust branch. The data also tracked phones to a place where Jones works, Giardino said. Police were able to search that area, and discovered “items consistent with the bank robbery. They found masks. They found what appeared to be burnt plastic strips — items consistent with a duffle bag that was used in the robbery.” In the same vicinity, Giardino said, police recovered “two firearms that match the description of the ones that were used in the course of the robbery.” 

Unlike the federal release, Giardino didn’t disclose that this evidence was located at a farm, or that it was somehow associated with a landscaping company. 

Giardino alleged that following the robbery, Johnson was seen in video at the Steamship Authority, where he allegedly employed a profile belonging to Jones to buy a ticket for his vehicle to depart. 

Giardino said Johnson was arrested in Connecticut, and brought back to the Vineyard. 

Johnson’s attorney, Janice Bassil, asked for $10,000 bail and flexibility to travel, as she said Johnson has two kids and a wife who is a U.S. citizen. She also said the couple’s income was such that they wouldn’t need to rob a bank. 

“This is the first time he’s ever been separated from his children,” Bassil said.

She noted he had no criminal record. Bassil asked that her client not be held in the Dukes County Jail for his safety. She didn’t explain why. She requested he be held at the Barnstable County Jail. Judge Barnes said he believed Johnson should be held in the jurisdiction where the alleged offenses took place; however, he said, the ultimate choice of where the defendant goes is up to the sheriff. 

The federal release credits the joint investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement. Those involved include U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe; Col. Christopher Mason, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Tisbury Police Chief Chris Habekost; West Tisbury Police Chief Matt Mincone; Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee; Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren; Oak Bluffs Police Chief Jonathan Searle; Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain; Canterbury (N.H.) Police Chief Michael Labrecque; and New Haven (Conn.) Police Chief Karl Jacobson. The release also states “valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meghan C. Cleary and Kenneth G. Shine of Rollins’ major crimes unit are prosecuting the case. 

Updated to correct the spelling of an attorney’s name. 


  1. If you rob a bank you go to a town or city where no one knows you and you leave immediately after the robbery. Dont leave your masks and clothes around–you burn them, nor text messages on phones, nor deposit money into banks. You use disposable phones and you sit on the money for one year and do no spending. Then you have a chance. Furthermore you dont do it for merely 39 thousand.

    • The ineptitude of this crew is obvious. Do they not know that their phones track their every movement?
      Want to rob a bank? Shut your phone off before, during, and after.
      They probably have selfies with the money prominently displayed.

    • For a first time bank robbery this was very successful.
      They got $39,000, the current average is $4,200.
      They didn’t injure anyone.
      At least one of them made it out of state.
      Harvard educated bank robbers do not use guns, they use pens, computers and slick talk.

      • “They didn’t injure anyone.”

        Let’s throw a parade in honor of their restraint.

        Successful criminals don’t end up in the papers for their alleged crimes.

        • Katie– sometimes armed robbers execute the tellers because they think they have a better chance with no witnesses.
          Let’s be thankful this was not worse for the tellers than it already was.
          I don’t in any way want to be praising the robbers, but I , and the families and friends and our entire community, for that matter, are quite thankful that we are not offering thoughts and prayers tonight.

          But let me chime in with Scott Terry on this thread, and ask where the guns came from .
          Maybe one of them was the “missing glock” from the Tisbury police dept.
          That would sure get a few people riled up here !!!!!!!!
          I am actually a little surprised that the usual police haters here haven’t put that out there as “fact”

          • Don, yes, this could’ve ended in tragedy. The worst-case scenario with guns is always that they’ll be put to use. I’m very grateful no one was shot, as I’m sure we all are.

            That said, there’s more than one way to harm innocent people. I don’t know how the employees are coping and don’t want to overstep by speaking for them. In general, this type of event has the potential to leave deep emotional scars. Not all injuries are visible, and I consider it ruthless to take someone’s sense of safety and peace. This case is about more than the money.

          • Those poor poor bank employees.
            Just think about the horror that our KIA/MIA Patriots have suffered and what these bank robbers put the bank employees through.

    • If you really want to be a world class bank robber (ultimately stealing from the depositors) get yourself a spot on board of the Federal Reserve.

      • Albert, I realize you have trouble making sense, showing respect, and staying on topic on a good day but, in case no one ever informed you, it’s possible to be concerned about more than one thing at a time. It can even be done without pitting those concerns against one another and making a mockery of a scary incident.

        Heaven forbid anyone express concern for the victims of an armed crime. Easy to dismiss when it didn’t happen to you.

  2. Just curious, does anyone have knowledge of an armed bank robbery on Martha’s Vineyard, before this November incident? Growing up, my friends and I would joke around by saying, “Imagine trying to rob a bank here on the Vineyard. If there is one crime it would be nearly impossible to pull off, a bank robbery on the island would be it !” Lo and behold, maybe forty years later, and….”Well, what do ya’ know…some Rocket Scientists ACTUALLY tried to rob a bank on the Vineyard !”

    • I moved to the Vineyard about 36 years ago after reading how a local went into the Edgartown National Bank and tried robbing it with a bow and arrow. What got me was the robber didn’t wear a mask and the teller knew the man and spoke to him by name.

  3. For under 40 grand, they held a gun to a Human’s head, and bound others. Humans with families. I cannot imagine the terror of that moment. Horrible.

  4. Andrew, you don’t really have a chance to pull off a successful armed robbery in today’s world. 3 or 4 guys will never be as smart as the thousands of trained law enforcement are. And for less than $10,000 each. What a bunch of idiots hahaha. So if they get 25 years in the can, that works out to be about $400 a year hahaha morons

  5. What about gun charges? I was never able to get a handgun permit in MA even though I was born and raised there. I think I might be pissed if 3 foreign nationals were carrying handguns legally. I’m also slightly curious about where they attained them.

    • Scott– I agree with you– but keep in mind, so far we have one unarmed foreign national and one armed foreign national in custody.
      The police are still looking for the 2 other armed suspects. They could possibly be Vineyard born and raised. I think it’s unlikely, but you never know until you know.

  6. The Feds should prosecute these violent criminals to the full extent of the law.This was a multiple felony offense. MV times please report the full number of felony charges for each of these armed robbers. Armed forcible robbery, grand theft of cash and auto, illegal/stolen guns, assault with a deadly weapon, armed violence with a concealed weapon, etc. Bail should be denied to all four of these individuals.

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