A Meridian woman was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in federal prison for securities fraud involving an Eagle company that purported to be a nuclear power-plant developer.
U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge also ordered Jennifer R. Ransom, 41, to forfeit $580,780 and pay $116,138 in restitution to victim-investors.
A federal grand jury in November 2014 indicted Ransom, the former vice president of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., and her business and romantic partner, AEHI founder and president Don Gillispie, on 14 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns and making false statements to federal agents.
Gillispie announced plans in 2006 to build a multibillion-dollar nuclear plant in Southwest Idaho. That plan, which was proposed for a succession of sites in Payette, Elmore and Owyhee counties, never gained traction. By 2010, allegations surfaced of fraud and of the company being a sham.
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Ransom pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud in April 2015. Gillispie failed to appear for two scheduled arraignment hearings in May 2015. He remains a fugitive.
The securities fraud charge to which Ransom pleaded guilty stems from an attempt to artificially inflate the market price of AEHI stock. According to court documents, from June through September 2010, Ransom sold about 1 million of her shares and received $675,326 in return, of which $580,780 was a result of securities fraud.
“This sentence sends the clear message that those who take actions to intentionally mislead stock purchasers for their own personal gain will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson in a news release. “Our securities markets require, and investor decisions rely on, fair dealing, not deception. Ms. Ransom’s intentional decision to disregard her obligations as a corporate vice president warrants her prosecution and punishment in this case.”
Ransom’s imprisonment will be followed by three years of supervised release, the first six months of which is home confinement.
Gillispie is still being pursued by the U.S. Marshals Service.