College Republican Arrested, Claims Setup

Jeremy Aldrich -- November 11th, 2010

Andrew Jones, a local Republican activist, was arrested yesterday for allegedly stealing credit cards from several JMU students and using them at Harrisonburg area stores, but he insists that he is innocent and that he was “setup” by the alleged victims because of his sexual orientation.

According to The Breeze, Andrew Lewis Jones was arrested yesterday morning at his home in Broadway and charged with 33 counts of credit card theft, forgery and fraud.

Jones, however, said in a private message that he would “never steal from anyone”.  He believes that some College Republican members set him up to appear guilty because he is gay, which he has not previously made public.

He denied The Breeze’s report that he was a “student impersonator” who is not really enrolled at James Madison University, writing, “I wouldn’t have a JAC card or JMU e-mail if I wasn’t a student.”

Jones was an intern for the Bob McDonnell gubernatorial campaign in 2009 and was Deputy Campaign Manager for Tony Wilt‘s bid for House of Delegates earlier this year. McDonnell and Wilt are among many Republican politicians who have opposed including homosexuals in state discrimination laws.

Initial rumors about the arrest indicated that it was for ballot tampering or some other form of election fraud.  Jones himself says “I thought when they arrested me it was for voter fraud. I was shocked to find out that wasn’t [the reason].”  In a public Facebook note about his arrest, Jones wrote: “I am aware of election fraud that took place, and I will bring this issue to the eye of the public as soon as the timing is right.”

UPDATE: Jones’ Facebook account was deleted sometime early Thursday morning.

UPDATE 2 (11/11 8:21pm): JMU College Republicans have released a statement denying Jones’ claims.

Jones, 18, said he dropped out of JMU last night and will transfer to another school, citing the school’s culture of underage drinking as one reason he felt he didn’t fit in.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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188 Responses to “College Republican Arrested, Claims Setup”

  1. Dave Briggman says:

    Just an observation, Scott. Nothing more.

    • Scott Whitten says:

      Oh, okay Dave. So you weren’t insinuating anything about the merits of their arguments or the intelligence of JMU students in general? I don’t think it’s helpful to be drawing lines in the sand here, and several commentators seem to be attempting just that. The reasoning behind it escapes me entirely.

      I don’t want to sidetrack this conversation any more, but since you are suggesting that you intended “nothing more” than to make an observation let me suggest that this type of observation makes you look like nothing more than, as Mr. Combs said, a troll.

      • Dave Briggman says:

        Actually, I know I could insult the SGA Senate and much of the student body who, at least at one time, believed that JMU students had a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to the “Plan B” or morning after pill, but that those with concealed handgun permits, issued by Circuit Court Judges have absolutely NO RIGHT to carry those on JMU’s campus.

        Yes, I often troll…often it bring up the buffoons of the world…

        • Scott Whitten says:

          It bring them up indeed.

        • Tyler says:

          Yes, you have certainly revealed yourself to everyone.

        • Andrew E says:

          That’s what happens when you import 30% of your population from NJ, NY and MD, and take most of the remainder from Northern VA. I know people who carry/have carried here (legally, with a permit). They can basically be charged at most with trespassing, but the enforcement costs are just insane. The current situation is probably a stable equilibrium: the lefties get to live in ignorant la-la-land (after all, if a magical policy is passed, EVERYONE follows it), while those of us libertarians or conservatives probably benefit more than we realize.

  2. Brooke says:

    Just by way of an update, the DNR has published an article cites University Spokesman, Don Egle, as saying Jones was never a student at JMU. So I guess we can at least lay that question to rest.

    • Tyler says:

      I just really don’t know what all of the argument is about here. Andrew Jones is a criminal guilty of credit card fraud, and he is soon to be convicted. I know someone who was interviewed by the police about this incident, and questioned about Andrew Jones, and they assured that he is most definitely going to serve jail time. The evidence is stacked insurmountably against him. It is fine if some of you wish to keep an open mind and hope for the best that he isn’t a criminal, but don’t condescend on the victims and act like you are a better person. Many of you only have the nerve to say some of the things that you are saying because you are hiding behind a computer screen. The bottom line though, is that Andrew Jones will go to prison, and arguing about ethics or trying to turn this blog into your own personal philosophy class is pointless, and a deviation from the point of being able to comment here.

      • Tyler,

        He’s unlikely to go to prison.

        As far as I can tell Andrew has NO PRIOR RECORD as an adult.

        He MAY do a little bit of jail time in the county jail — but he may not.

        He’s much more likely to receive a suspended jail sentence with supervised probation. — if he’s convicted.

        There are several criminal defense attorneys who read this blog and may, or may not concur…but I doubt he’s going to the Department of Corrections.

        • Tyler says:

          Forgive me for the use of “prison,” what I meant to say was that he is definitely going to be convicted, and what I’ve heard from some of the victims, is that he is expected to do a plea bargain.

      • Jason B says:

        You’re not a criminal until you’re convicted. Then, you are a criminal. That’s why there are words such as “alleged.”

        Yes, the evidence is stacked against him, but I wouldn’t necessarily rely on what a friend of someone who spoke to the police who apparently said blahblah as evidence.

        I don’t see anyone here pretending to be better, but I do see plenty of people here who are really playing up the victim card. Is it bad that their cards were stolen and misused? Yes. Is it the end of their world? No. Is it bad that a supposed friend allegedly stabbed them in the back? Well…welcome to reality.

  3. Dave Briggman says:

    Just a quick off-topic question, but does anyone know if has gone out of business? No postings since Halloween.

    • Joshua says:

      It certainly is a fair question. I’ve wondered the same myself. Unfortunately, my original zeal for the whole project quickly faded.

      • Sara says:

        I know this is a different topic but I also got dissapointed with the a long time ago, it just became another left-wing-oriented site that doesn’t even report actual “news”, but mostly personal commentaries. It certainly looks like is another personal blog of very liberal David Reed and also Bishop Dansby. I think Cucci Guidos was in business longer.

  4. Jason B says:

    Hey folks, I graduated from JMU as well (twice), and I have to say that if you don’t want to be picked at, then take the time to create at least somewhat grammatically correct posts. Yes, it’s an easy target, blahblah, but it also shows a certain laziness that begs the question: if you don’t care enough about your own thoughts to present them in an easily readable manner, why should we?

    Now, back to the subject at hand: JMU has really been having problems over the last decade with “non-traditional” or “non-degree seeking” students on campus. Memorably, for me, was the older guy who was a legit student who one day, in the little lawn behind Keezell Hall, pulled out a large knife and started stabbing the ground over and over again. While most cases aren’t this bizarre, it appears that JMU may need to reconsider how they accept and maintain these students.

    • Andrew E says:

      For the non-JMU students out there, Keezell Hall hosts the English Department.

    • Scott Whitten says:

      Agreed. It is more difficult to take people seriously when they don’t take the time to proof read their own posts. Stating that those “identifying themselves as JMU students” (Dave’s words) are the worst offenders, however, serves no other purpose than ruffling feathers and diverting the conversation. Both “students” and “townies” have attempted to frame this discussion as though our community can be so neatly divided. This type of attitude isn’t at all constructive IMO.

  5. David Miller says:

    hburg comment section is broken!

  6. Perhaps you JMU students/victim misunderstand what the interest is here?

    Harrisonburg News generally doesn’t cover what is largely a petty, white-collar theft of plastic from a bunch of white kids. People are charged with this sort of crime on a DAILY basis in the local area.

    Most of us are interested in this matter, solely because Jones has made allegations that election fraud has been occurring in our community.

    • Coalition for Appalachian-American Rights says:

      Please be aware of the huge economic disparity between the average JMU student on the one hand and the average local, full-year residents on the other, most of whom suffer under much the same acute economic exploitation as is often highlighted in other regions of the US.

      • Quit working my corner Piker! My people are not economically exploited – they freely choose to serve multinational corporate interests in order to aggravate weak-kneed New Deal Liberals who misdiagnose the acknowledged cause – our celebration of simple answers, and willful ignorance.

        • Lowell Fulk says:

          The Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the Coalition for Allegheny-American Rights plans to hold a planning meeting for our Allegheny Uprising Covered Dish and BBQ Venison Cook Off and Shooting Match. The Right Reverend Bubby Sheikh of Spruce Knob will be chairing the meeting.

          We simply cannot allow the encroachment of our Valley by the Coalition for Appalachian-American Rights!

          JMU is our own local University and if anyone is going to complain about them, it will be us. You Appalachians get on back to your own territory and find your own school to feud with.

      • Coalition for Appalachian-American Rights says:

        Apologies, this comment was intended as a response to Jason B, not Mr. Briggman.

    • John Mottern says:

      Does the Coalition for Appalachian-American Rights have a website?

      • Wanting to become an anarchist, John? :-)

        They used to have a website…Either or shut it down as they were reposting whole articles from the DNR without attribution.

        Honestly, I have forgotten the URL for their “newer” site.

  7. joe_hokie says:

    Did the author do any research for this article, or is he assuming the information from the alleged is accurate? I don’t think he was an intern for the McDonnell campaign. Maybe a volunteer?

    Generally interns are at least reimbursed for travel, etc.. . .vpap doesn’t have him listed.

    • Jeremy Aldrich says:

      Joe – just got a response from the Governor’s Deputy Press Sec. Taylor Thornley which confirms that Jones was an “unpaid volunteer intern” at the Harrisonburg office.

      • joe_hokie says:

        Thanks for looking into that, Jeremy.

        But generally, isn’t that research done before an article is published?

        In any case, glad it worked out for you.

        • Jeremy Aldrich says:


          I don’t know if you’re local or not, but this story isn’t the first time we’ve become aware of Mr. Jones. I have interacted with him several times for different stories (often because he was answering the phones at Republican offices) and had no reason to doubt he was an intern. However, given your reasonable point about VPAP and the other allegations of dishonesty floating around, it was worth looking into.

          It seems some of the commenters wish that Jones wasn’t previously a Republican activist and are accusing me of dragging partisan politics into this story. That is not my goal. Jones’ involvement in local politics is an important element of the story for several reasons, and as Dave B. pointed out the main interest of most locals in how this turns out is that someone with family and organizational connections to several recent elections is claiming he is aware of election fraud. Frankly, if this were only a credit card fraud case I doubt hburgnews would even be covering it.

          When I first wrote this story, it was very late at night and many of the principal folks couldn’t be contacted. I have made efforts in the last few days to contact as many of those main players as possible – bear in mind we are volunteer reporters here with other jobs too. I think it’s worth noting that relying only on the accounts of the interviewing police officer, as The Breeze and WHSV did for their original stories, has led to some inaccuracies being stated as fact (such as that Jones was a BRCC student and that he had already admitted to stealing the credit cards, both of which are not true).

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