Word to the wise: If you ever serve on a grand jury, don’t post its secrets on Facebook.
You could end up like Leslie Lynn Heburn, a 37-year-old Miami woman who is now stuck behind bars for a year.
Heburn was supposed to have kept her mouth shut while serving on a federal grand jury in Miami. But she blabbed about an indictment on Facebook to the girlfriend of a felon charged with illegally dealing firearms, even sending the woman photos of legal documents.
Heburn pleaded guilty to an obstruction charge in the same federal court in June and was sent to prison for a year by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke on Wednesday.
In January of last year, Heburn was sworn in as a federal grand juror and told about the panel’s strict rules of secrecy, including never to disclose any matters or she could be criminally charged.
On May 4, 2017, Heburn and the other grand jury members received copies of a proposed indictment of Rocky Dejesus Molina on charges of dealing firearms without a license and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The grand jury returned the indictment against Molina.
Jurors were told not to leave with any information from the grand jury room on the seventh floor of the federal courthouse on North Miami Avenue.
But a week later, before Molina’s arrest, Heburn used an alias on a Facebook account and reached out to Molina’s girlfriend via Facebook Messenger, according to court records. Heburn told the girlfriend she was on the grand jury and had seen Molina’s name on an indictment.
“Heburn then warned Molina’s girlfriend that Molina had been set up by a ‘snitch’ since March 2016,” federal prosecutors said.
After Molina was arrested on May 24, 2017, his girlfriend contacted Heburn via the Facebook account to ask more questions. That is when Heburn sent the girlfriend photos of Molina’s indictment. She continued to tell the girlfriend that Molina had been set up a number of times by a confidential informant deployed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to records.
Heburn also told the girlfriend that she knew she could get into trouble for leaking information from the secret grand jury, prosecutors said.
After Molina pleaded guilty last October to firearms charges, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Heburn soon received a “target letter” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, accusing her of breaking the law as a grand juror.
At Wednesday’s hearing, her court-appointed defense attorney, Barry Wax, argued for lenience — no prison time — citing his client’s “severe mental health issues” after an abusive upbringing and lifetime of struggles.
“At the time that she committed the crime with which she is charged, she had stopped taking her prescribed psychotropic medication,” Wax wrote in court papers filed this week. “This case may very well have saved Ms. Heburn from something worse, because as a result of her arrest, Ms. Heburn was ordered to attend mental health counseling, which she now does weekly. And, it has helped stabilize her.
“Quite clearly, we also have a woman with significant mental illness which needs to be treated, not exacerbated by incarceration.”