Federal prosecutors have an interest in a North Carolina man who was arrested March 19 in Le Roy after allegedly being found in possession of an AR-15 rifle in violation of the SAFE Act.
Michael Alan Jones, 24, of Raleigh, has been charged in U.S. District Court in Western New York with possession of a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon, and has reportedly reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
The FBI's interest in Jones may have more to do with his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection in Washington, D.C.
The online news site RAW Story links Jones to two extremist groups, the Proud Boys and Patriot Front, and places Jones in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
At 4:36 p.m. March 19, deputies Kenneth Quackenbush and Nicholas Charmoun stopped a gray Nissan Sentra driven by Jones for an alleged traffic violation. Upon approaching the vehicle, the deputies observed several knives, military surplus gear, and two compound bows inside the vehicle, according to a Federal affidavit by an FBI agent.
The affidavit says a passenger in the car was identified only as PK. The deputies reportedly observed a backpack on the passenger-side floorboard with bolt cutters protruding from the pocket.
Upon searching the vehicle, the deputies located pry bars, bolt cutters, and gloves, which, the affidavit states, the deputies believed to be consistent with burglary tools. They also found pepper spray and ammunition.
When asked about the ammunition, according to the affidavit, both Jones and PK claimed ownership.
Jones later said he owned everything in the vehicle except the backpack, and that the ammunition was "someone else's."
The agent wrote, "GSCO deputies asked JONES if there was a firearm inside the vehicle. JONES responded, 'There shouldn't be.'"
Deputies determined that the plate on the vehicle didn't match the vehicle, and the plate was removed from the vehicle and the vehicle was towed from the scene.
A subsequent inventory search uncovered, according to the report, military surplus gear, Beofang handheld radios, additional knives, and the "Army Tactical Combat Casualty Care Handbook."
Deputies also located in the trunk a Palmetto State Armory AR-15 rifle, bearing serial number 5CD729076, and a 30-round Magpul PMAG magazine was found in the trunk of the vehicle.
The agent says that Jones told deputies that he purchased the firearm a "long time ago," but never fired it. He allegedly said he brought the rifle from North Carolina to New York.
The agent said that on April 19, the FBI interviewed a person in North Carolina who had worked with Jones at a Cracker Barrel in Mebane, N.C., and that this former co-worker, HN in the report, said initially that he didn't recognize the rifle but that he had purchased it for Jones. He said he purchased it through the Palmetto State Armory website and used PayPal to complete the purchase.
The rifle violated the state's SAFE Act because the rifle was equipped with a flash hider, capable of accepting a removable magazine without a pinned magazine release, and was equipped with a telescopic stock.
Jones' prior felony conviction in North Carolina, referred to in the Federal charging documents as "a crime against nature," involves Jones, at 18 and 19, having sex with minors, aged 14 and 15. He was arrested on charges.
According to sources, Jones has no known ties to Genesee County. It's unknown why Jones and PK, who is from the Finger Lakes region, were in Genesee County when deputies spotted the Sentra reportedly making an illegal turn in the area of Route 33 in Le Roy.
Locally, Jones was initially charged with criminal possession of an assault weapon 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon 3rd (ammunition feeding device), unsafe turn, number plate violation, and driving an unregistered vehicle on a highway.
Jones, according to the arrest report, served in the U.S. Army. The report states he wasn't employed at the time of his arrest and his highest education level was high school.
District Attorney Kevin Finnell said the local case was dropped after Jones was charged Federally because of a defendant's Constitutional protection against double jeopardy.
Sheriff William Sheron praised the effort of Quackenbush and Charmoun in apprehending Jones.
"This was another example of good police work," Sheron said. "Looking beyond the traffic ticket."