A convicted South Jersey sex offender on Tuesday tried to blame his failure to wear a GPS tracking device on Hurricane Sandy-related relocation woes.
But a jury took just 23 minutes to convict 48-year-old Ernest Jones of violating the state's court-ordered Community Supervision for Life program. Prosecutors said it was Jones' eighth such violation since 2003.
Jones in 1999 pleaded guilty in Cape May County to sexually assaulting a young female who was in his care. He served a five-year prison term and was ordered to submit to GPS monitoring after his release.
Though Jones was required to keep the GPS tracker no more than 25 feet from his person, police on Nov. 12, 2012 received an alert from the monitoring device notifying them that Jones was out of range. Parole officers found the tracker at Jones' friend's house in Newfield.
Jones was located eight months later in Millville and arrested.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Jones' lawyer argued his client lost the GPS tracker while relocating to emergency housing in Gloucester County following Hurricane Sandy, according to a news release from the county prosecutor's office.
The lawyer claimed Jones accidentally picked up the wrong trash bag of belongings from a relative's vehicle and left the monitor behind. After that, according to the attorney, Jones had no way to contact the relative and was "floundering" in his emergency housing.
Still, assistant prosecutor Bryant Flowers noted, Jones wasn't simply thrown into the street during his relocation, but received assistance for lodging and meals. Flowers said Jones is subject to the rules of the court-ordered supervision program, and that "rules are meant to be followed," according to the release.
Jones has been imprisoned without bail since he was arrested July 29. According to court records, Jones most recently pleaded guilty to violating the supervisory program in May 2012 and was sentenced to serve one year in jail.