November 10, 2012

Weighing the cost of prosecution

AKWESASNE — The case against an Akwesasne man accused of taking more than 1,000 acres from the non-Indian deeded owner may cost too much to pursue.

William Roger Jock, 51, was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury in late 2011 on a charge of second-degree grand larceny for allegedly, in February 2009, taking over land near the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino by cutting down trees and forging a dirt path deep into the woods.

An Iroquois flag was placed there along Route 37, as was a small trailer, which has since been opened as a retail cigarette shop. A small wooden building was built later next to the trailer.

The land is deeded to Horst Wuersching, who claims in a lawsuit that he’s being deprived of his property because of Jock’s actions.

Jock, known by his Mohawk name Kanaratiio, is a member of the Kanienkedaka Men’s Society, or Mohawk Warrior Society, of Akwesasne. He said he has a valid claim to reservation land because he is Mohawk.


County Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr. dismissed the indictment in June because the paperwork accused Roger Jock of the crime, not William Roger Jock. It was not clear that both names referred to the same man, he said.

“There is simply no evidence that the grand jury meant to indict William Roger Jock,” the judge wrote.

There was also a discrepancy with the date of the alleged crime because the indictment stated it was March 2, 2009, but evidence presented put the date at Feb. 3, 2009.

“The People altered the date, contrary to the evidence, to March 2, 2009, when instructing the grand jury and drawing the indictment,” the judge wrote. “Such a mistake, accidental though it may have been, cannot be excused as a mere clerical error.”

The judge also ruled that 16 people — the minimum number of grand jurors — heard the entire presentation of evidence that led to the indictment against Jock. But 17 voted on it, which means someone voted but didn’t hear all of the witnesses.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
CVPH Job Opportunities