Feds take over robbery prosecution

Miquel Jones appeared in court Thursday, but the case was delayed until Friday. -Rich Saltzberg

Miquel Anthonio Jones appeared in the dock in Edgartown District Court Thursday for what was to be a probable cause hearing related to the Rockland Trust Bank robbery in November.

Jones, the first suspect taken into custody by police, was previously arraigned on a charge of being an accessory after the fact. He was scheduled to be arraigned on armed and masked robbery and conspiracy charges Thursday, in addition to the scheduled hearing, but neither event occurred.

Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Michael Giardino asked for a second call for Jones’ matters and for Omar Odion Johnson, who was previously arraigned on armed and masked robbery and conspiracy charges stemming from the bank robbery. Giardino was vague as to what the prosecution would be seeking during a second call. Johnson was in transit, and never made it into court. Jones’ attorney, Charles Morano, said he believed his client’s case could be resolved in district court Thursday ahead of pending federal matters. Morano said Jones’ federal attorney was in court, but didn’t identify him by name. 

Janice Bassil, one of Johnson’s attorneys, appeared remotely and told the court that the commonwealth had been ordered to produce discovery, “which they failed to do.” Bassil went on to say, “There’s definitely a federal case. My client has been arraigned on it. And frankly I have no idea why they’re continuing to drag this case through the state court. They’re clearly going to dismiss it.”

“Good question,” Judge Benjamin Barnes said.

Following a sidebar, Judge Barnes said the court would only allow three outcomes for the two defendants: a probable cause hearing, dismissal, or nolle prosequi.

Judge Barnes continued the two defendants’ cases to Friday. However, the charges against both defendants were all abandoned through nolle prosequi by the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office a short time later, according to Edgartown District Court Clerk-Magistrate Liza Williamson. The end of state-level charges now paves the way for the Justice Department to steer the cases.