A former federal grand juror appeared in court Friday to face charges that he leaked secret information about the investigation of an Iowa man later convicted in a nearly $1 million investment scheme.
Terry Jacob Jones was released after making a brief initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Des Moines. He did not enter a plea to a complaint charging him with criminal contempt for disclosing details of testimony and a sealed indictment and arrest warrant for John Holtsinger of Ottumwa.
The complaint filed by a Secret Service agent, unsealed Wednesday, says that Jones sat on a grand jury that met in 2011 and 2012 in Des Moines and considered the government's case against Holtsinger, who falsely convinced friends and neighbors he was a successful investment adviser.
The grand jury returned an indictment in May 2012 charging Holtsinger with fraud, money laundering and tax evasion, but that document and a subsequent arrest warrant remained sealed.
The complaint said that Jones was at Costco in West Des Moines days later when he bumped into one of Holtsinger's friends, Tom Henry, who had testified to the grand jury. Henry asked Jones what the investigation was about, and Jones told him the details, saying that he felt sorry for victims of Holtsinger's fraud, the complaint says.
Henry immediately told Holtsinger the details, including the number of witnesses and who had testified "for" or "against" him, the complaint said. Holtsinger told those details to an associate, who reported the grand jury leak to a Secret Service agent.
Investigators reviewed Costco's surveillance footage that shows Jones and Henry having a discussion near a checkout lane, but the footage was later lost by the store manager and automatically deleted by its security system, the complaint said. Receipts show they purchased items within one minute of each other.
Jones told investigators that he was aware he probably should not have revealed the indictment information to Henry, the complaint said. In another case handled by the grand jury, Jones informed one of his neighbors in Allerton he was going to face federal charges, the complaint said.
Jones' attorney, J. Keith Rigg, declined comment.
Holtsinger was sentenced to 87 months in prison in January after pleading guilty to fraud and tax charges. Prosecutors said he took nearly $1 million that he promised to invest for acquaintances from 2009 to 2012 and used most of it to pay for living expenses and vacations.
The federal code under which Jones is charged gives judges the power to issue fines or prison terms as they see fit to anyone who disobeys their orders. The complaint says U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt and federal prosecutors had informed Jones of his secrecy obligations as a juror.
The government did not seek Jones' detention, and he was released on a promise to appear at future court hearings.