Club owner to get 4th trial on drug charge

WASHINGTON — A D.C. nightclub owner charged with drug conspiracy whose case went to the U.S. Supreme Court will be tried a fourth time.

A government prosecutor said Tuesday at a court hearing that Antoine Jones will be retried after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict during his third trial, which followed a victory for Jones at the U.S Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court overturned a previous conviction more than two years ago because police used a global positioning device to track him without a valid warrant.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle declared a mistrial after jurors deadlocked following seven days of deliberations. At Tuesday’s hearing, Jones, who represented himself with the assistance of court-appointed lawyers, told Huvelle that he wanted to try to find a lawyer to represent him during the next trial.

Huvelle said during the hearing that someone connected to Jones had approached a juror after the case, and she told Jones to warn them to stay away.

Jones’ first trial, in 2007, also ended in a mistrial. He was convicted in a second trial and sentenced to life, but a federal appeals court reversed. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the reversal last year in a major decision that has prompted police to seek search warrants more often before they use GPS tracking devices.

The government alleged that Jones was linked to a house in Fort Washington, where authorities found nearly $1 million in cash and nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine.

Jones, owner of the Levels nightclub, was arrested in 2005. A joint task force of the FBI and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department had obtained a 10-day warrant to install a GPS device on Jones’ car in the District of Columbia but failed to use it as specified. After the warrant expired, they found Jones’ car in a parking lot in Maryland and installed the device, then monitored his driving patterns for 28 days.

The police also obtained cell-site data during their investigation, but did not use it during the earlier trials because they had the more reliable GPS data. Last month, the judge presiding over the current trial found the cell-site data.

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