Quartzsite, AZ - The initial appearance for a felony charge of “tampering with a witness" was vacated against newspaper publisher Jennifer Jones this week. This is the fifth arrest for Jones since last November, which began right after she announced her intention to run for town council and start an independent newspaper. Despite repeatedly alleging what Jones has called “frivolous” charges, the town has refused to see any of them through. “Clearly, they are threatened by me and they’re using these false allegations to try and destroy my reputation.” Stated Jones. “This has been a pattern and practice that has escalated over the last three and a half years since the police searched my home without a warrant and I dared to file complaints about it.” She said. Currently, Jones is facing only citations for “vending without a permit.” This is the same charge dismissed with prejudice last month by Magistrate Judge John Henry.
Police Chief Jeff Gilbert and Sergeant Xavier Frausto were parked blocking the fire lane outside the Quartzsite Post Office on Friday, December 2nd. When Jennifer Jones walked out the door, Gilbert asked, “Can I talk to you Mrs. Jones?” When Jones replied, “No. Anything you have to say, you can say in front of the people inside.” Gilbert and Frausto followed her into the crowed Post Office lobby and placed her under arrest.
Despite Jones repeatedly asking what she was under arrest for, the police refused to provide an explanation. Finally, Gilbert said he would explain it to her later and Jones suggested, “you should explain it to the people that are paying you to do this”.
While awaiting transport to the La Paz County Jail, Gilbert disclosed the charge but refused to provide any details. When Jones asked who signed the warrant Gilbert replied, “I don’t need a warrant. I just have to reasonably believe you committed a crime.” Jones responded that she reasonably believed he had been sampling the confiscated drugs in the evidence locker if he thought there was any probable cause for her arrest in a federal building.
According to Jones, Gilbert also referenced the blowback to the June 28th incident where he and Officers Fabiola Garcia and Rick Patterson forcibly removed her from a town council meeting and the video went viral on Youtube. “I haven’t received an email about you in, well, months. No one cares about you any more Mrs. Jones.” claimed Gilbert. Jennifer Jones was injured in that incident, which has been under investigation by Detective Ronald Baroldy of the Arizona Department of Public Safety Major Crimes Division, but no final report has been made public.
DPS Major Crimes is also investigating allegations against Chief Gilbert and Sergeant Frausto made by eighty percent of their own department last May. Some of those charges relate specifically to targeting Jones and her husband, as well as other known associates of recalled Mayor Ed Foster. Despite the fact that DPS Detective Pete White has not cleared them of the serious allegations, Gilbert and Frausto remain on duty. “The town’s Procedures and Policy Manual requires them to be placed on administrative leave, but the council refuses to act. In the last year, I knocked on the door of every state agency and asked for help to no avail. It’s evident how deep the incompetence and corruption runs.” said Foster.
Seven of the nine officers and the police administrator who ”blew the whistle” on department misconduct last spring were fired by the town over the summer and are represented by the Phoenix Law Firm of Schnider and Onofry. The alleged victim in Jones’ most recent arrest is Denise Ann Florian, a woman who was placed on the town’s personnel board on September 22nd to hear the appeals of terminated town employees, including the police officers. Florian has lived in Quartzsite for less than a year, and has colorful history of civil and criminal cases in Orange County, California
Quartzsite elected and appointed officials made headlines over the summer for refusing to show employee payroll and other open records requests, as well as numerous alleged open meeting violations including a secret meeting where the council declared a “state of emergency” and locked the door on the mayor and citizens. That Youtube video resulted in a press conference by Attorney General Tom Horne, but the AG’s office has not taken any further action.
Neither has Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Her office claims to lack the ability to get involved, yet Brewer successfully lobbied the State Senate a month ago, for the removal of the Independent Redistricting committee Chairwoman Colleen Mathis, after allegations of open meeting violations. Foster says, “Brewer is fiddling while Quartzsite burns. I’m worried someone is going to get seriously injured here before this is over.”
A year after her first arrest, Jennifer Jones newspaper, The Desert Freedom Press has the largest circulation in the La Paz County area and she has pulled nomination papers to run again for town council in March. According to Jones, this time, she intends to run on a campaign platform of disbanding the town’s dysfunctional police force and negotiating with the county sheriff to expand their dedicated coverage of the embattled town. “ I used to believe that there was hope for saving it, but it has become painfully clear that the legal liability for the police department no longer justifies spending over one third of our town budget. We need to start over, and while the position of police chief is an entrenched bureaucrat, the sheriff is accountable directly to the voters and has a Constitutional mandate to do the job.” Said Jones.
To listen to drunken voicemails made by alleged victim Denise Florian of Quartzsite Coachworks, the night the Quartzsite Town Council appointed her to the Personnel Board, go to:
Warning, explicit language
Warning, explicit language