A former Las Vegas resident picked up at the U.S.-Canadian border on Nevada securities fraud charges was ordered held for extradition from New York on Monday, after a judge rejected his claim of diplomatic immunity.
Mark Douglas Jones, a native of England who, according to media reports, has portrayed himself as a billionaire potential buyer for a decommissioned British aircraft carrier, was indicted by the Nevada Attorney General's Office in 2010. Prosecutors said he convinced a Las Vegas woman to invest $130,000 in a bogus charity enterprise in 2004, allegedly saying its projects were subsidized by the U.S. government and helped battered women, abused children and Native Americans.
Jones, 44, initially was arrested in Colorado in February 2010 on a Nevada arrest warrant, but his trial was canceled last November after he failed to appear in court, according to Las Vegas court records. Clark County District Court Judge Carolyn Ellsworth issued a warrant for Jones' arrest despite an argument by his lawyer, Michael Pariente, that Jones was being vindictively prosecuted.
Jones was arrested Jan. 8 at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls as he returned from Canada. A judge ruled Monday that he can be held up to 30 days while Nevada provides paperwork for his extradition.
Pariente did not immediately respond Monday to a message from The Associated Press. Jones was represented Monday by a public defender, David Blackley, who declined to comment after the hearing.
In the Lockport courtroom, north of Buffalo, the bearded Jones, wearing his hair in a ponytail that fell past his shoulders and leaning heavily on a cane to walk, conferred frequently with his attorney as Assistant District Attorney Peter Wydysh presented fingerprint evidence to prove Jones was the individual sought in Nevada.
At the end of the fingerprint expert's testimony, Blackley said Jones would not contest that evidence but was claiming diplomatic immunity. Blackley said his office had made inquiries but found nothing to support the claim. Nevertheless, he asked for a day to review paperwork Jones said he had at the jail where he has been held since his arrest. Judge Matthew Murphy denied the request and ordered Jones held for extradition.
Jones is charged in Nevada with securities fraud, transacting business as an unlicensed broker, theft and offering to sell or sale of an unregistered security. Each charge carries a potential prison term of up to 20 years.
Jones allegedly told the 43-year-old victim that her investment in stock in Eaglefinger Enterprises Inc. would yield a return of 2 percent per month for two years, according to the indictment. Instead, Jones allegedly wired $39,700 of the money to 14 other people and spent $14,500 on his own travel expenses, the indictment said.
The London Daily Mail reported last week that Jones had proposed buying the 600-foot HMS Ark Royal with plans to turn it into a floating hospital to be used at natural disasters. The ship was put up for sale after being released from service in 2010.
Associated Press Writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report from Las Vegas.