Grand juror charged in drug probe that included search of O.J. Simpson's home

Tuesday, December 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ A federal grand juror who prosecutors say tipped off a friend about a drug investigation has been charged with obstruction of justice _ the latest development in a probe that included a search of O.J. Simpson's home.

John Acosta, 31, was charged with leaking information to a friend who was later charged in the investigation into the Ecstasy ring. Prosecutors said the ring also was suspected of money laundering and satellite TV equipment theft.

Acosta, who was being held on $200,000 bond, did not speak during a brief hearing on Monday. His attorney, David Rothman, declined comment.

Prosecutors refused to say whether the alleged disclosure by Acosta jeopardized searches for evidence at 10 locations, including O.J. Simpson's home.

U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis would not comment on Simpson's alleged involvement or how Simpson's attorney got advance word about the search warrant for the former football star's home in suburban Miami.

``Secrecy lies at the heart of the federal grand jury system,'' Lewis said.

Federal agents searched Simpson's house for six hours on Dec. 4. He could be seen playing with his dogs, and he left the home while the search was continuing.

Yale Galanter, Simpson's attorney, told reporters following the search that he had been warned authorities might search his client's home. He said the tip was an anonymous call he considered a prank. He said he never passed the tip along to Simpson.

So far, federal agents have arrested 11 people as part of Operation X. Simpson was not among those taken into custody.

According to the FBI, Acosta heard testimony and saw evidence about the drug ring and later alerted defendant Zenaida Galvez about the investigation. The FBI said Acosta was a friend of Galvez's boyfriend.

Galanter told reporters that Simpson is not involved in the drug ring and doesn't know Acosta or Galvez.

``There is just no connection to make,'' Galanter said.

Simpson moved to Florida from California after a civil court jury ordered him to pay $33.5 million for the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles. He was earlier cleared of criminal charges.