By Kate Klimesh,
At the Fillmore County Courtroom in Preston, Minn., the judge, attorneys and staff were awaiting the arrival of Mindy Jones to her Omnibus Hearing and Settlement Trial Monday, March 27, at 1 p.m. Public Defender Milind B. Shah had been assigned to Jones’ case just that day; her application for a public defender was filed March 24 and Judge Jeremy Clinefelter ordered a public defender be assigned March 27.
Frustration was felt among those in the courtroom as Jones did not attend her hearings in-person as required, but instead attended via Zoom. Jones was then warned by the judge that she is expected to attend all in-person hearings physically in-person. Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson stated, “This is not the first time she has not appeared in-person when ordered.” Judge Clinefelter replied, “I share your frustration in that.”
Jones requested permission to speak, and once granted, stated, “I just wanted to apologize. I read the paper wrong and was looking at the last one [date].”
The Omnibus Hearing is for 33 separate felony charges alleging that Jones had deposited 11 of the victim’s checks without the victim’s knowledge into various Harmony, Minn., bank accounts belonging to Jones or Jones’ business ventures, totaling $37,138.50. Jones had been living with the victim near Cresco at the time of the incidents, resulting in a total of 33 felony counts of theft, theft by check, theft by swindle, receiving stolen property and check forgery.
The Settlement Hearing is for 14 counts of felony theft by swindle, theft by check, theft over $5,000 et al, Theft – take without consent and issue dishonored check for allegedly writing $34,000 in bad checks to the victim for merchandise received by Jones to be sold at Jones’ business.
Both the Settlement Hearing and the Omnibus Hearing have been rescheduled for an in-person date of Thursday, June 8, at 2 p.m. Following the Settlement Hearing June 8, Jones will have a jury trial beginning Monday, June 19, at 9 a.m., in Preston, Minn., at the Fillmore County Courthouse.
Judge Clinefelter concluded by stating, “I am telling you now the dates you will need to report in person, so there’s no excuse.”
The charges against Jones for Arson in the first degree and Animal Mistreatment were approved by District Court Judge Alan Heavens Friday, March 24, to go to trial jury. The arraignment is scheduled at the Allamakee County Courthouse April 10 at 9:30 a.m. Public counsel was appointed March 15, with Nathan Moonen representing Jones in Allamakee County Court.
At this time, 47 witnesses have been identified by Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke for potential testimony in the case, including special agents with Iowa Dept. of Investigations and Iowa Fire Marshalls, federal agents, Waukon Fire Department members, and Waukon Police Chief Paul Wagner, former employees of Tin, Rust and Harmony, as well as possible video evidence captured from adjacent businesses and Waukon Iowa Video Foundation.
This case has been approved for expanded media coverage of the trial. Continue watching for updates as they are available across multiple news outlets.