Accused bank robber rejects plea deal 

305

© 2020 • Williams Pioneer Review | The duplication and distribution by any means, including but not limited to photocopying, screenshots, photographing, retyping, and posting to the Internet, a personal or commercial website, or social media account without express permission of the publisher of this newspaper is forbidden by law.


Trial has been set to begin May 6 for one of two men charged with robbing the Umpqua Bank in Arbuckle last summer. 

Michael Gene Jones Jr., on March 11, rejected a plea deal offered by the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office that may have reduced his risk of being convicted on all charges by a jury, potentially making a prison sentence significantly longer.

Jones is currently facing felony charges of second-degree robbery and grand theft of a vehicle, with two special allegations involving the use of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm, court records indicate. 

The use of a firearm in a robbery could add 10 years to a sentence under California’s “10-20-life” law, according to penal code.  

Colusa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brendan Farrell, last week, withdrew his offer for a guilty plea on reduced charges, with a recommended sentence of nine years in state prison. 

Jones is one of two men accused of robbing Umpqua Bank and leading deputies on a high-speed pursuit, before both managed to evade capture by dumping their vehicle and fleeing on foot through an orchard. 

According to investigators, a witness at the bank’s ATM saw two masked men enter with guns and then exit the bank and flee in a tan Toyota pick-up, later found to be reported stolen from Sacramento International Airport. 

A second man, John Williams III, has yet to make an appearance in Colusa County Jail. Williams remains in custody in San Mateo County on charges unrelated to the Arbuckle robbery, and is still awaiting extradition to Colusa County. 

The pair are accused of making off with about $5,000 of the bank’s money, court records indicate.  

Investigators said DNA found on the inside and outside of a glove, recovered soon after the July 5 robbery, matched Jones, a previously convicted felon in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, and that a search warrant served on his Woodland home turned up a handgun and clothing that matches video surveillance footage of the robbery. 

A shotgun, unconnected to the Umpqua Bank robbery, was also recovered from Jones’ home, officials said. 

The court has scheduled three days for Jones’ trial, which would be vacated if a new plea arrangement can be reached, officials said. ■