Mayor of Rock Hall jailed for week­end

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By DO­RIAN MITCHELL dmitchell@thekent­coun­

CH­ESTER­TOWN — Rock Hall Mayor Brian Jones spent this past week­end in jail, after being con­victed of driv­ing a ve­hi­cle not equipped with an ig­ni­tion in­ter­lock.

In an Oct. 19 hear­ing in the Dis­trict Court for Kent County, Judge John E. Nunn III sen­tenced Jones, 33, to 30 days in the Kent County De­ten­tion Cen­ter, with all but two days sus­pended.

A $500 fine was sus­pended, and Jones was or­dered to pay $57.50 in court fees.

He is to be on un­su­per­vised pro­ba­tion for one year. The charge car­ries no points on his motor ve­hi­cle record.

Jones pleaded not guilty to an agreed upon state­ment of facts.

“I was sat­is­fied with the rul­ing,” he wrote in a Tues­day email. “I think it was fair and jus­tice was served.”

Jones served his two-day sen­tence from 6 p.m. Fri­day to 6 p.m. Sun­day at the de­ten­tion cen­ter. Speak­ing Mon­day, War­den Her­bert Den­nis con­firmed that Jones did ar­rive as sched­uled.

“There was no trou­ble as far as I know,” Den­nis said. “He came in, did his time and left us.”

Jones wrote that he was “back to do­ing town busi­ness on Sun­day evening.”

The charge stems from an in­ci­dent in June, when Jones re­quested that two Rock Hall po­lice cars be avail­able for him and Coun­cil­man Brian Ness­por to drive to the Mary­land Mu­nic­i­pal League Con­ven­tion in Ocean City. The po­lice cars are owned by the Town of Rock Hall.

Jones’ ve­hi­cle re­quired an in­ter­lock, a de­vice that pre­vents a ve­hi­cle from start­ing if the driver has been drink­ing, as part of an agree­ment with the Motor Ve­hi­cle Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

That agree­ment came about due to other al­co­hol­re­lated charges filed against Jones in Jan­uary, after he had a crash on state Route 20.

In Au­gust, he pleaded guilty to driv­ing while im­paired by al­co­hol. The judge set aside the guilty ver­dict and granted pro­ba­tion be­fore judg­ment.

Eight other charges, in­clud­ing driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol, were dis­missed. The Oct. 19 con­vic­tion does not af­fect the pro­ba­tion be­fore judg­ment he al­ready re­ceived.

Jones had pre­vi­ously stated that fol­low­ing a March hear­ing at the MVA of­fice in Eas­ton, an in­ter­lock was in­stalled in his per­sonal ve­hi­cle.

How­ever, Jones drove one of the po­lice ve­hi­cles to the con­ven­tion in June. The Rock Hall Po­lice Depart­ment is­sued a sum­mons in Au­gust, with charges against the mayor.

“I’m a lit­tle con­fused as to why you didn’t drive your own ve­hi­cle to the con­ven­tion,” Nunn told Jones in court last week.

De­fense At­tor­ney David Wright said the MVA hear­ing left Jones with the im­pres­sion that he could op­er­ate town ve­hi­cles, even with­out an in­ter­lock.

“It’s more mit­i­ga­tion than guilt or in­no­cence,” Wright said. “The se­cond he was aware of what he did, he stopped im­me­di­ately.”

Wright asked the court to grant pro­ba­tion be­fore judg­ment.

David Daggett, the spe­cially ap­pointed pros­e­cu­tor, pre­sented Nunn with a copy of the agree­ment be­tween the MVA and Jones. Nunn said a box for the in­ter­lock was checked.

“We have pa­per­work that clearly says only to op­er­ate (a ve­hi­cle) with an in­ter­lock,” Nunn said.

Jones’ only state­ment in court was that he agreed with the com­ments made by his at­tor­ney. Reached by phone after the hear­ing, he said he had no com­ment at the time.

In his Tues­day email, Jones thanked ev­ery­one who “called, sent mes­sages and checked in” and that “the sup­port from my com­mu­nity has been over­whelm­ing.”

“This is be­hind me now and I can go back to fo­cus­ing on all the great ini­tia­tives hap­pen­ing in town,” he wrote. “I sin­cerely apol­o­gize to my fam­ily, friends, sup­port­ers and cit­i­zens of our great town. I hope that ev­ery­one will ac­cept my apol­ogy and con­tinue to sup­port me as Mayor of the Town of Rock Hall.”


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