Alleged `mafia wife` gets bond reduced - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Alleged `mafia wife` gets bond reduced

New Orleans, La. -

Prosecutors say she's a self-proclaimed "mafia wife" who is involved in covering up criminal activities in two of the city's most violent gangs.  Her attorney says she's a 17-year-old schoolgirl who should be given a reasonable bond.

An Orleans criminal judge has now decided the issue.

From the U.S. Attorney to the mayor to the police chief, we've seen a full court press in efforts to crack down on gang violence.  Monday, that effort ran into some trouble, with a young woman with alleged ties to gangs involved in the murders of innocent children.

17-year-old Ja-on Jones went before Orleans Criminal Judge Laurie White in an effort to get her $650,000 bond reduced.  Prosecutors intent on cracking down on gang violence produced an Instagram photo from the defendant, in which she poses with an alleged gang member armed with a gun and labels herself a "mafia wife."

Prosecutors say Jones lied 13 times to a grand jury in order to protect her boyfriend, Demond Sandifer, and two associated gangs, the Skull Squad Mafia and the 110 Street Gang.

But in a heated exchange with Judge White, prosecutor Alex Galinda came up short in his effort to keep her bond at $650,000.

Galinda argued, "It's the totality that warrants the bond.  This is a criminal gang she's associated with. She made multiple phone calls to gang members."

Judge White asked, "Did those calls involve criminal activity?"

The prosecutor responded, "I can't go into that."

"In my opinion, for a 17-year-old girl who is trying to get to college,who's never been in trouble, I think it's ridiculous she be held on a $650,000 bond,"said Jones' attorney Greg Carter.

Clearly the DA's office is following through in a crackdown on serious crime activity, but some courthouse veterans say it's a flawed approach for a number of reasons.

Veteran defense attorney Jeffrey Smith recently won an acquittal in a similar trial.  He says local authorities have far less cash than the feds to conduct expensive surveillance, often needed to prove gang conspiracies.

"The pitfall is that the Tulane and Broad system does not have nearly the experience that they have in federal court where they see these cases all the time," Smith said.

He also says local gangs are not as structured and not as easy to identify as Crip- or Blood-type gangs in other cities.

The Metropolitan Crime Commission welcomes the effort.  MCC Director Rafael Goyeneche says, "It's a healthy sign to see these types of prosecutions, because before Katrina that was not the reality."

Judge White wound up reducing the so called mafia wife's bond from $650,000 to just $19,500. The bond reduction appears to be a setback for prosecutors who appear intent on curbing gang crime, but they are showing no signs of backing down.

Prosecutors lodged an objection to Monday's bond reduction. They say Ja-on Jones didn't call her mother when she was arrested, she called her boyfriend and warned him that they were asking her a bunch of questions about alleged gang activity, which resulted in several murders. Jones had been held in jail for one month, on the previous bond.

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