Mayor of Rock Hall jailed for weekend
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.”