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U.S. attorneys Thursday lifted grand jury subpoenas for a...

AMARILLO, Texas -- U.S. attorneys Thursday lifted grand jury subpoenas for a central figure in a gold coin counterfeiting scheme and his wife because the couple indicated they would invoke Fifth Amendment rights in response to questions.

Sidney James Heard, who is charged in state courts with theft, drug possession and conspiracy to commit arson, was called, along with his wife Suzanne, to testify before the federal panel investigating a counterfeit Krugerrand gold coin scam and a suspected arson-for-insurance ring.

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Both were released from their subpoenas after complying with grand jury directives to supply handwriting samples, have fingerprints taken and photographs made.

'This (release from subpoenas) is not at all unusual if a person who has been subpoenaed advises he will invoke the Fifth Amendment,' a U.S. Attorney said.

Heard, 38, has been linked to the gold coin counterfeiting operation -- involving replicas of the South African Krugerrands that have turned up in several Texas cities -- and also is thought to be connected with an arson-for-insurance operation.

The Amarillo man is free on bail on the five state charges.

He is charged with two counts of theft in Harris County for the sale of fake Krugerrands to a coin dealer, two counts of possession of controlled substances in Randall County and one count of conspiracy to commit arson in Lubbock County.

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The federal grand jury, which has been in session since Wednesday, will continue hearing testimony Friday.

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