Just before the winter recess, on December 7, 2009, Director of Campus Safety Bill Ferguson sent a campus-wide e-mail alerting students and faculty that the suspect arrested in connection with the November campus break-ins had been released from Madison County Jail on bail.
On November 16, Jonathan J. Sanders, a 20-year old resident of Madison, was arrested at Colgate’s Huntington Gymnasium and charged with burglary in the second degree. Sander’s bail was set at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond. At the time of Sander’s arrest, Hamilton Police Chief Gary Mlasgar told the Maroon-News, “more charges are pending.”
However, no further charges were pressed, and Sanders’ defense attorney, David Russell, quickly filed a motion for a bail reduction hearing. Russell argued that bail should be reduced because Sanders had no criminal record, he was a lifelong member of the Madison community and the items allegedly stolen in the burglary were of minimal value. Bail was reset at $5,000 cash and Sanders was released.
Madison County District Attorney Bill Gabor said on Tuesday that his investigation is still ongoing and he did not rule out the possibility that more charges will be brought against Sanders.
However, Russell believes that it is unlikely that more charges will be brought against Sanders.
“I believe that this is a case of mistaken identity,” Russell said in an interview with the Maroon-News on Tuesday. “When the paperwork first came in it was loaded with allegations that had not been to my knowledge, as of yet, proven, or there would have been new charges,”
Russell added it is still possible for the District Attorney to bring new charges, but he said, “I would be surprised.”
Russell said that the case against Sanders revolves around the alleged theft of a perfume bottle taken from a female student’s off-campus apartment. According to Russell, Sanders was charged with burglary in the second degree for that alleged theft.
On November 16, Ferguson sent an e-mail to the Colgate campus reporting that a woman had reported a sexual assault in one ofthe three alleged break-ins. That attack was not confirmed by the Hamilton Police Department, and no charges of sexual assault have been brought against Sanders.
“Either there was another person involved in a separate attack and that’s why they have the wrong guy, or it simply didn’t happen,” Russell said. “But I can tell you, the contact that my client had with a female that night, which he admits that he did, was completely 100 percent consensual.”
Gabor offered little comment on the details of the case, citing his office’s policy not to comment on pending cases. Gabor has been the Madison County District Attorney since January 2009 and he has been handling this case since Sanders’ arrest in November.
It will now be up to Gabor to determine whether this case should go before a Grand Jury. If convicted of burglary in the second degree, Sanders faces a maximum sentence of three-and-a-half to fifteen years in prison.
“My client is 100 percent innocent,” Russell said. “I believe this is a case of mistaken identity, and he [Sanders] did nothing wrong. And I’ve got some proof about that, but I cannot relay it right now. It is in the hands of the District Attorney’s office.”
Russell and Sanders will wait for Gabor’s decision as the Maroon-News continues to follow this story.