Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m., St Augustine City Commissioner Errol Donledy Jones, will return to court with his attorney, Patrick T. Canan, for a pre-trial hearing on charges that stem from his arrest on October 23rd for obstructing an officer without violence.
Assistant State Attorney Ben Rich is prosecuting additional charges filed against the commissioner on November 21st; alleging that he tampered with a witness in the original first-degree misdemeanor crime.
The 68 year-old Jones, who resides at 60 Palmer Street in St. Augustine, will appear before Judge Alexander R. Christine Jr.
Historic City News reporters do not know the source of the witness tampering charges; however, in postponing today’s hearing, Judge Christine required Assistant State Attorney Rich to outline what Jones allegedly did to violate the law when he returns to court.
Police say officers were investigating a disturbance at a home near the intersection of Julia Street and Nesmith Avenue following a reported assault; when St. Augustine Police Officer Michael Linsky reported that he was “rushed” by a man who came running from the garage. In the incident report, Linsky says that a flood light over the garage blinded him from recognizing the man — who police now know was Commissioner Jones.
“I was wronged and I don’t appreciate the embarrassment of it all,” Jones said upon being released from custody. “I plan to file an official complaint with the city police department.”
In an abundance of caution, Chief Loran Lueders called for an independent investigation of the officer’s actions. Investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded that there was no wrongdoing; in the way local police made the arrest.
Unless ordered by the Governor, Jones, who is an elected official, does not automatically have to resign his seat on the commission because of either of the charges. If Jones were convicted, because both crimes alleged are a misdemeanor, it still would not trigger an automatic suspension.
If the Governor decides that resisting a police officer or witness tampering are serious crimes of moral turpitude, he has the power to issue an executive order removing Jones from the remainder of his term. Jones, or his successor, will have to stand for election in November.