Woman gets back half of inheritance

Staff WriterDecember 20, 2006 

— Anne S. Holland received half of the $300,000 that she contends was stolen from her six years ago by James Roland Jones, a Raleigh man who prosecutors think fronted an elaborate ruse to attract investors for a bogus company.

Jones, 54, of Raleigh agreed to immediately pay $150,000 to the Durham woman and was put on probation for two years after pleading guilty to four charges of obtaining property under false pretenses.

Jones entered an Alford plea in a Wake County courtroom on Nov. 27, which allowed him to plead guilty without admitting that he committed the crime. Court documents show that he also confessed to taking an additional $270,000 from Holland and three other victims. They can try to collect that money.

Holland handed over the $300,000 of inheritance she had in 2000 after attending meetings and presentations held by Jones. He told her and others that he had developed technology used by the United Parcel Service to track packages and that he planned on bringing that technology to the public marketplace, Holland said. Jones predicted that the company, IRIS Inc., would be worth $17 billion in three years and that each investor would earn $17 million by investing with him, according to court documents.

An official with UPS, however, told an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation that he had never heard of Jones.

Holland reported her loss to SBI agents in 2002 and spoke weekly with SBI and federal agents during the course of the investigation.

"It was very traumatic knowing that someone had absconded with your funds," Holland said. "I had to focus each day, and I'm trying to get on with my life."

Jones, in a written statement from his lawyer Joe Zeszotarski, indicated that he didn't intentionally steal the money.

"Mr. Jones has always recognized owing the funds at issue in this matter," Zeszotarski wrote. "But Mr. Jones has always stated that he never intended to defraud anyone."

Aside from Holland, Jones admitted taking $50,000 from Kenneth Carroll Kennedy, $20,000 from Gregory Kurt Bergland and $50,000 from William Douglas Mitchell.

(News researcher Susan Ebbs contributed to this report.)

Staff writer Sarah Ovaska can be reached at 829-4622 or sovaska@newsobserver.com.

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