A Columbia Paper article published late last night reports that a second grand jury convened to consider City Hall burglary charges brought by District Attorney Paul Czajka against former Alderman Quintin Cross and resident Jamont McClendon has declined to issue an indictment.
According to one legal expert, that would imply that the judge assigned to the case agreed to dismiss the original grand jury indictment, while allowing the D.A. to take a second shot at a new grand jury. Such a step likely would have be taken by the County prosecutor in order to correct issues that arose with the Hudson Police Department not providing both his office and the defense with a complete set of evidence—including a reported videotape from City Hall from the night of the March 19th break-in.
However, if judge Jonathan Nichols had issued such a ruling, it had not become public knowledge despite the intense publicity that the case had attracted. A trial had been expected this Fall, prior to the evidence SNAFU, which gave his attorney Susan Tipograph grounds to get her client released pending trial.
The pair’s saga has attracted widespread news coverage both locally and in the region after the HPD issued a bulletin that they were seeking Cross and McClendon for questioning in relation to the break-in. The two then disappeared, with the latter apprehended in Hudson on April 3rd, and the former turning himself on April 30th, nearly six weeks after the police bulletin. It is still unknown where Cross was staying during that period.
According to a Register-Star report in August, the missing evidence included “a DVD of the Hudson Police’s interview of Cross, a CD of more than 100 photos from the crime scene and stills from the City Hall surveillance camera showing two suspects entering the building.” Judge Nichols “summoned” HPD chief Ellis Richardson and Detective John Funk to deliver the missing materials, considered at the time crucial to the case.
Nichols was also assigned to a prior case against Cross involving some $16,000 in City credit card charges. According to the Register, Cross was “arrested in January 2007 by the New York State Police and charged with seven felonies and four misdemeanors including forgery, identity theft, grand larceny and falsifying business records for using credits cards in the names of then-Hudson Mayor Richard Tracy, Hudson Police Chief Ellis Richardson and the city of Hudson.”
That case eventually resulted in a larceny plea deal, with various community figures pleading for leniency. But parole violations caused Cross to spend two years in jail, rather than just than his initial six months’ time served. Judge Nichols rejected his attempt to void the sentence on procedural grounds.
Questions also arose (for example, on CBS6) about the Hudson Police interviewing Cross voluntarily on the morning after the burglary was discoverd, but then deciding not to hold him shortly before his disappearance and the issuance of the bulletin.