Infamous Car Dealer Stays One Jump Ahead Of The Law

April 14, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

"Mr. Jones is becoming a rather notorious individual in Anne Arundel County, with the undersigned receiving numerous allegations on a regular basis of his nebulous and possibly illegal activities. The undersigned would rate Mr. Jones as a very good con man who knows the system well and can manipulate it to his advantage."

-- Agent Mallory S. Fisher of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Service's Division of Parole and Probation, in a report on Gino Marchetti Jones.

He's no killer or rapist, but almost every police officer in AnneArundel County knows or knows of Gino Jones. A decade of frequent run-ins with the law and a reputation as a grifter specializing in the roadside sale of used cars have made Gino Marchetti Jones one of the best-known names in the county's police stations and courthouses.

Jones acknowledges his notoriety -- and will tell you he regrets his involvement in illegal pursuits ranging from making crank telephone calls and selling cocaine to playing a key role in an auto theft ring that moved 200 cars a year.

But he's a legitimate businessman now,he says, a self-employed "car cleaner."

And he complains that area lawmen are harassing him because of his criminal past and a name that is unforgettable to anyone who remembers the glory years of the Baltimore Colts.

He was born in the fall of 1960, when the two-time defending world champion Colts were led on defense by a future Hall of Famer named Gino Marchetti, who went on to give the world the Gino Giant hamburger while becoming a fast-food tycoon.

"If you saw 'Brooks Robinson Jones' or 'Al Capone Jones' on the docket, you'd notice them, too," Jones said in the county courthouse while awaiting the start of a February court hearing. At one point during the hearing, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., a Baltimore native and Colts fan, inadvertently referred to Jones as "Mr. Marchetti."

The hearing had been convened to draft a payment schedule for restitution ordered when Jones pleaded guilty to four counts of cocaine distribution and 11 counts of auto theft in 1988.

In that case, Jones received a 20-year suspended sentence. Before being sentenced, Jones wrote the judge a letter reminding him that he had cooperated with state police investigations.

A suspended sentence of 20 years.

Three years later, Jones is still slipping through the system with a steady string of arrests that, more often that not, end up with the charges dismissed. Failure to compensate his victims as ordered by the court. Instant used car lots on North County street corners.

Victims of his deeds find all this amazing and infuriating.

Nearly all who have met Jones comment on his remarkably charming personality, his way of oozing sincerity while lying through his teeth. He's a brilliant con artist, they say. A polite and -- with clean, pressed jeans, neat, dirty-blond hair and green eyes -- a handsome one at that.

Prosecutors and some police officers call him the most likable criminal they've ever encountered, adding he has never been known to be involved in serious violence. Just fraud.

Said Assistant State's Attorney Trevor A. Kiessling Jr., who prosecuted Jones in the auto theft case (and represented Jones' ex-wife in divorce proceedings): "Gino Jones is one of those kinds of people who just has excellent business sense. He sees opportunities, and he knows how to grasp them.

"Gino's problem, as I always saw it, was he would make a grasp for the quick buck," Kiessling added. "If that man would just agree to be straight the rest of his life, he'd make a fortune."

Rita Rae Elkins, Jones' ex-wife, said hehas the ability to be a millionaire in the car business.

Fisher, Jones' probation officer, called him a "slick and manipulative individual" who "always seems to have several different deals working simultaneously." He also noted: "It seems such a shame for a person with as much intelligence as Mr. Jones to squander such in these illicit activities rather than to use his talents for legitimate gains."

Fisher's comments were made in probation reports last year. Since then, state probation officials have decided that Jones violated the terms of his probation and asked for a bench warrant for his arrest. Judge Thieme issued a warrant April 5. Then on Thursday, he issued four more warrants for violation of probation.

As of Friday, he remained afree man.

Action by law enforcement agencies would please some ofJones' victims -- such as a woman who made 48 monthly payments of $275 on a car she bought from Jones. The car was seized as stolen goods after she had made only three payments.

Or the man who bought a truck from Jones and then couldn't get clear title on it because of Jones' dishonest dealings with the state Motor Vehicle Administration.Donald Enste said: "I cannot imagine that this guy is still running around. . . . He should have been run out of town."

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