Davenport 3rd Ward Alderman Bill Boom admitted Tuesday that he lied to a federal grand jury during a crystal methamphetamine investigation in 2016.
The 65-year-old Boom, who wore a button-down dress shirt and black pants, appeared in U.S. District Court, Davenport, with his attorney, Murray Bell, and pleaded guilty to one count of false declaration before the grand jury, a felony, during a hearing lasting less than an hour.
Boom quietly answered questions posed to him by Magistrate Judge Stephen Jackson Jr., regarding the terms of his plea agreement, the elements claimed by prosecutors and whether he was voluntarily making the plea.
Standing with his hands clasped behind his back, he quietly replied, “Guilty, your honor,” when Jackson asked him for his plea.
The charge carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison or up to five years of probation and a fine of up to $250,000.
However, prosecutors and Boom will jointly agree to recommend a sentence of probation, according to the plea agreement.
He will be sentenced Aug. 24 by Chief District Judge John Jarvey, who will have sole discretion on Boom's sentence. A status hearing is scheduled for July 21.
Per the plea agreement, Boom will not be charged with any other federal criminal offense "arising from or directly relating to this investigation."
He will remain out of custody until he is sentenced. Under the terms of his release, Boom cannot travel outside of the United States and cannot excessively drink alcohol, use illegal substances, or possess a firearm.
Following Tuesday’s plea hearing, Boom surrendered his passport.
By pleading guilty to a felony charge, he cannot hold public office, Jackson said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.
He is serving his fifth term on the City Council. The term expires in January.
Boom declined comment after Tuesday’s hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Corkery also declined comment.
Boom’s plea comes more than a year after Scott County Sheriff’s deputies searched his home in the 400 block of West 7th Street as part of an investigation into the sale of crystal methamphetamine by Gage A. Wenthe, 26, who was living with Boom.
Deputies seized the drug, also known as “ice,” marijuana, suspected marijuana wax, an unknown white powder, drug paraphernalia, a digital scale, packaging materials and two rifles, according to investigators.
Wenthe, when questioned by deputies, admitted to being a middle man for the sale of methamphetamine and marijuana to several people in the area, according to investigators.
Boom was representing the City Council at a broadband conference in Austin, Texas, at the time of the search. He told the Quad-City Times in an interview at the time that he had no knowledge of the drugs in his home.
He was not charged with any drug offenses.
A second man, Joseph Allen Terry, 40, was charged later that day after a search of his Davenport home turned up approximately 63 grams of “ice” methamphetamine, a digital scale, $1,375 cash and 37 hydrocodone pills. Packaging materials and drug paraphernalia also were seized.
Terry and Wenthe were both charged in Scott County District Court. Wenthe pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and possession with intent to deliver marijuana in Scott County District Court and was given a deferred sentence and placed into the Mental Health Court program.
Wenthe violated the terms of the program and was ordered in January to serve the original sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The state charges were dropped against Terry in July when he was charged in federal court.
He pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and will be sentenced May 25.
According to a plea agreement filed Tuesday, Boom testified before a federal grand jury on July 19 in connection with the investigation.
He was advised by an assistant U.S. attorney that he could face criminal penalties if he failed to testify truthfully or misled the grand jury, according to the plea agreement.
During the grand jury proceedings, Boom was asked if he was aware that Wenthe used methamphetamine prior to the search of his home on April 6, 2016. He said no, according to the plea agreement.
“There was a time when I found a syringe in his room, but he told me that that was from one of his friends that had diabetes,” Boom told the grand jury, according to the plea agreement. “But every time that I suspected something, I would give him holy hell.”
He also testified that he had never given money to Terry but said that he had given money to Wenthe or his relatives.
Boom admitted in the plea agreement that he knowingly made a false statement and that he knew that Wenthe used methamphetamine prior to April 6, 2016. He also admitted in the plea agreement that he had given money to Terry.
These questions and answers were material to an investigation into the distribution of methamphetamine in southeastern Iowa, according to prosecutors.
Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane declined comment Tuesday and referred questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.