Jones Arson and Animal Abuse charge update

Mindy Jones

The arraignment of Mindy Jones on the Allamakee County felony charges of Arson, First Degree and Animal Abuse was held last week. Jones’ Attorney, Nathaniel Moonen, filed the receipt of the written arraignment of charges and submitted Jones’ plea of Not Guilty as of Friday, April 7. 

Jones is being charged as a result of the investigation into the Feb. 13, 2022, fire that destroyed both the newly-opened Tin, Rust & Harmony store, owned by Jones, and the Paws Up retail store which has since relocated and reopened. 

Jones’ pre-trial conference for these charges has been set for Sept. 11, 2023, with a jury trial to begin Oct. 4, 2023. 

Moonen later filed a motion to withdraw counsel in this case, which was approved Monday, April 10. Attorney Dan Key was appointed as counsel in this case as of the same date. 

Moonen’s withdrawal was due to a conflict of interest found during
discovery in the case, in which Moonen had found his clients that were upstairs tenants in the fire Feb. 13, 2022. He then filed to withdraw as counsel.

Additional court dates

Jones will face court on June 8 in Fillmore County regarding felony charges in two other cases involving felony theft and fraud charges due to bad checks, nonpayment for products provided to her store, forged checks and checks taken without consent. In all, Jones will face 14 felony charges in one case and 33 felony charges in the other on June 8, with the Jury Trial scheduled for June 19 at 9 a.m. in Fillmore County on the 13 felony charges.

Past errors still to be paid

In 2014, Jones, then known as Mindy Jo Riley, was originally charged in Bremer County with 15 counts of first-degree theft, a Class C felony, and 15 counts of forgery, a Class D felony, for taking and forging 15 checks from a Sumner couple’s account with Farm Credit Services totaling $164,091.83 in between December 2012 and June 2013. She pled to five of the forgery charges, while the theft and the other 10 forgery counts were dismissed, for which she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She served around a year in prison, before being released in 2017.

Also, part of the sentencing was the order to pay restitution totaling $164,091.83 to the victim in $50 payments every 30 days beginning the summer of 2016. Jones has twice been held in contempt of court for not making payments.  In a contempt of court order from Nov. 2021, it was noted that in the five years since her sentencing, she paid  just over half of the payments ordered, averaging $350/year for a total of $1,650 paid. According to the 2021 order, “Despite the fact that Defendant (Mindy Jo Riley/Jones) owns and operates her own retail business and is able to make regular payments on her financial obligations, Defendant has only paid $550 in restitution over the past 12 months. Looking at the timing of the payments she has made, it is clear to the Court the Defendant has the ability to pay more toward her restitution obligation in this case but only chooses to make payments when prompted by the State or when a hearing is set requiring her personal appearance before the court.” 

The November 2021 ordered her to make regular monthly payments of $75 to the Bremer County Clerk of Court beginning December 2021 or be sentenced for contempt of court to 15 days in the Bremer County Jail. November 2021 was also when she was initially charged with six counts of Theft, et al in Fillmore County, Minn., regarding a fraudulent raffle Jones was selling tickets for. She was sentenced to 120 days in jail and was allowed to serve her time with work release in Waterloo.  

During this same time, Jones had secured the Waukon building for her expansion of her shop, Tin, Rust & Harmony at 9 Allamakee St., Waukon, posing for a ribbon-cutting Dec. 3, 2021. Jones had purchased the property for $62,000 according to the Warranty Deed dated Dec. 17, 2021. She then secured a mortgage through a Waukon bank for the property as of Dec. 31, 2021, to include a line of credit up to $181,418.57, which was to mature in five years.

Forty-four days later, the building was destroyed by fire, which remained under Iowa State Fire Marshall investigation until recently, when Arson charges et al were filed against Jones.

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