EDGARTOWN — A seasonal landscaper with ties to Jamaica appeared in court here Monday on charges connected to last week’s armed robbery of a Rockland Trust bank.
Miquel A. Jones pleaded not guilty to a single count of being an accessory after the fact to the robbery. Bail was set at $300,000 and Jones, 30, was ordered to stay away from the victims and the bank and to wear a GPS-monitoring bracelet if he posts bail.
Jones is the first person charged in connection with last Thursday’s robbery, in which three armed suspects wearing identical, Halloween-type masks ambushed three employees, bound them with plastic ties and duct tape, and stole thousands of dollars from a vault, authorities said.
The suspects then stole a bank employee’s SUV and drove away. A short time later, the SUV was captured on video arriving in a parking lot at a state forest in Edgartown, State Police said in a report filed in court Monday that shed new light on the audacious heist.
The clip showed a 2007 Hyundai Elantra with a missing hubcap on the back driver’s side leaving the lot moments after the SUV arrived. The video was taken by a bus driving past the parking lot, police said.
On Friday night, police spotted the dark-colored Elantra in Tisbury and pulled it over, with Jones behind the wheel, the report said. A search of the car found three $100 bills, two of which had sequential serial numbers, and a pair of white Nike sneakers and dark clothing that “are consistent with surveillance videos and witness and victim statements,” police said.
Jones agreed to be interviewed that night and again the next day, police said.
“Throughout the interview, Jones would continuously change his story and show signs of evasiveness of what was asked of him,” police wrote. He also told police that his co-worker was married to a bank employee whose SUV was stolen during the robbery.
Two other suspects appear to have left the island by ferry, police said. Security video of a Stop and Shop supermarket in Vineyard Haven, along with video and records from the Steamship Authority office there, showed a silver sedan arrive in the supermarket lot at 8:57 a.m. The two men then paid cash for two ferry tickets at 9 a.m. They returned to the car and stayed there until they boarded a ferry at 9:21 a.m., police said.
(The 9:30 a.m. ferry from Vineyard Haven was scheduled to land in Falmouth at 10:15 a.m., according to the Steamship Authority schedule. Last Thursday, police descended on a Falmouth hotel searching for the robbery suspects, but did not locate anyone.)
On Thursday around 9:53 a.m., a dark colored sedan with a missing hub cap on the rear driver’s side — seemingly the same car Jones was driving when stopped by police — arrived in the supermarket lot. A man wearing a hooded sweatshirt got out of the car and climbed into the silver sedan, moved into a space at the Steamship Authority’s standby lot, and departed on the 12:24 p.m. freight ferry, police said.
That driver bought the ticket with a credit card issued to Jones, police said. Jones told investigators that driver stayed with him on Martha’s Vineyard the night before the robbery, police said.
That driver is also the registered owner of the Elantra, police said. The sedan he drove onto the ferry is registered to a person who shares his last name and lives in New Hampshire, police said.
That driver has not been charged in Edgartown District Court in connection with the robbery. The investigation is ongoing, authorities said.
The heist appears to have been planned. After the robbery, West Tisbury Police Chief Matthew Mincone told investigators that someone he knows was riding in a car with a man he knew as “Tallman” on Nov. 4. Tallman told the person that he wanted to help his friend “Miquel” or “Miguel” rob the Rockland Trust bank, Mincone told investigators.
“Tallman began to tell the [confidential source] that he was trying to recruit someone to help his friend with a planned bank robbery of the Rockland Trust Bank in Tisbury. Tallman identified his friend as a male name ‘Miguel’ or ‘Miquel,’ ” State Police wrote. “Tallman told CS that his friend wanted to rob the Rockland Trust Bank and had masks that would be used during the robbery. Tallman told CS that the robbery was to take place sometime in November 2022.”
Jones is a member of the Friendship New Testament Church who has visited Martha’s Vineyard every year since 2016 to earn money to support his three children, according to Jones’s court-appointed lawyer, Casey Dobel.
“People are looking for someone to blame” for the robbery, Dobel said. “Mr. Jones is not that person.”
Jones has no criminal record in the United States or Jamaica, she said.
“This is not a violent man,” she said. “This is not somebody who, in any way, shape, or form, [would be] a danger to the community.”
Jones remained shackled during his court appearance. He looked frequently around the courtroom and at the reporters on the far side of the chamber.
Court papers listed Jones’s address on Saddle Club Road in Edgartown, but a man who answered the front door said Jones didn’t live there. His family lives in another town on Martha’s Vineyard, he said. He declined to answer any questions before closing the door.
John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.