The onetime girlfriend of a Hempstead police officer testified Wednesday that the two took part in a botched heist in a Far Rockaway apartment building, mistakenly thinking a cocaine dealer lived there.
Aurelia Natalie Flores, 26, of Hempstead, said that in 2008, when she had an "on-again, off-again" relationship with the former police officer, Brian Jones, he told her he needed cash and planned to rob a cocaine dealer.
Jones is on trial in U.S. District Court in Central Islip for conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce and brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence.
Jones had just been suspended without pay shortly before the attempted robbery, after he wrapped a metal chain around his hand and smashed two windows in a car of another man Flores was with, she said.
Flores said the violence began after she saw Jones in a car with another woman, grabbed his cellphone, in an apparent fit of jealousy, and locked herself in the other man's car, Flores said.
Jones "was struggling financially and asked [an acquaintance] . . . if he knew anybody who had drugs and cash, because [it was] . . . the only way to make money," she said under questioning by Eastern District prosecutor Lara Treinis Gatz.
Flores said she had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a robbery and was awaiting sentencing. She said she was wearing an electronic bracelet and had to report often to officials because she had failed to keep a court date.
Flores said she had a green card and was testifying in hopes that she would get a lesser sentence and not be deported to her native El Salvador.
Flores' account of the robbery matched that of two mothers who lived in the apartments that the robbers broke into. They testified on Monday that they and their children had been terrorized by two gunmen and a woman who gained entry saying she was selling chocolate.
During the robbery, Jones was yelling: "Where's the money? Where's the drugs?" Flores testified.
In one apartment, a husband and wife who had been handcuffed by the intruders "started to pray" in Spanish, Flores said. When she translated their words for Jones, he "thought it was a joke," she said.
During part of Flores' testimony, Jones' mother, Jesse, a regular spectator at the trial, put her head in her hands and looked down.
Jones' attorney, Brian Davis of Garden City, said she declined to comment, along with other family members.
Flores faces up to 20 years in prison. Jones faces up to a life sentence, if convicted.The trial before U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco is expected to continue todayWednesday.