Home News Michigan lawmaker found with hidden handcuff key inside jail following DUI arrest

Michigan lawmaker found with hidden handcuff key inside jail following DUI arrest

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Jewell Jones courtesy of Michigan House Democrats.


Dave Boucher

Detroit Free Press

Embattled state Rep. Jewell Jones, D- Inkster, no longer serves on any legislative committees.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R- Farwell, leveled the punishment Thursday, one day after Livingston County prosecutors say Jones tried to smuggle a handcuff key into jail after a judge revoked his bond and sent him to jail in connection with drunken driving and resisting arrest charges.

“Rep. Jewell Jones’s increasingly disruptive and distracting behavior in the months following his April arrest has eroded my confidence in his ability to conduct the people’s work. That behavior hit a new low yesterday when he appears to have made a bizarre attempt to escape from jail, potentially resulting in two new charges. Action must be taken to protect the public’s interest. I am now removing Rep. Jones from all House committees and encouraging him to use that time to make changes and take control of his actions,” Wentworth said.

“The Michigan House of Representatives will continue to make sure he has access to every service and every bit of support we have to help him on his journey. I sincerely hope he finally takes advantage of those opportunities and gets the help he needs. The people he serves are counting on him to do so.”

House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski, D- Scio Township, in a statement Thursday did not say whether she supported Wentworth’s decision.

” Rep. Jones is facing an increasing number of serious charges. Our priority is providing him with the support he needs to meet these challenges and stay healthy. We are focused on ensuring Rep. Jones has a fair pathway to accountability so we can move forward together.”

On Wednesday, she declined to say whether she thought Jones should resign.

“These are serious charges. It’s important to let the investigation proceed and the legal process play out so all the facts can come to light,” Lasinski said in a statement.

Ali Hammoud, an attorney representing Jones, declined to comment Thursday morning on the speaker’s decision.

Asked Wednesday whether Jones should resign, a Whitmer spokesman declined to comment.

Jones was arrested in April after allegedly driving into a ditch while drunk on Interstate 96 near Fowlerville and not complying with Michigan State Police. He told troopers he had control over their budget and threatened to call Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as they attempted to arrest him, according to police records.

Following that arrest, Jones is accused of repeatedly violating the terms of his bond. Police and prosecutors say he tested positive for alcohol earlier this month and tried to put a sock underneath the band of his ankle monitor in an effort to tamper with it.

Jones previously pleaded guilty to two other bond violations.

On Tuesday, a Livingston County judge ordered that Jones be sent to jail because of the repeated violations. That same day, officers reportedly found a universal handcuff key taped to the bottom of Jones’ foot.

He was charged with two additional felonies on Wednesday.

“He realizes the seriousness of the allegations,” Byron Nolan, one of Jones’ attorneys, said during the arraignment on the felony charges.

Jones is the fourth lawmaker to lose his committee positions because of punishment in recent months, and the second this week.

On Tuesday, Wentworth stripped Rep. Steve Marino, R- Harrison Township, of all committee assignments. On Wednesday, Rep. Mari Manoogian, D- Birmingham, posted a statement on social media accusing Marino of committing domestic abuse. A Michigan State Police spokeswoman confirmed the agency is investigating after receiving a complaint.

Marino has not responded to a Free Press message seeking comment.

Last year, Wentworth and former House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R- Levering, temporarily removed one Democrat and one Republican.

Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D- Detroit, was removed after she posted a video about Trump supporters that leadership and others considered threatening. Rep. Gary Eisen, R- St. Clair Shores, was removed after a radio interview where he suggested an affiliation with a group that planned to disrupt Electoral College proceedings and could not rule out violence.

Contact Dave Boucher at dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

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