Former Idaho nuke executive pleads guilty to securities fraud

Jennifer R. Ransom, 40, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of securities fraud, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.

A federal grand jury in November indicted Ransom, former vice president of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., and her 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.

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 approximately 1 million of her shares and received approximately $675,326 in return, of which approximately $580,780 was the proceeds of securities fraud.

As part of the plea agreement, Ransom agreed to forfeit $580,780, the proceeds of the securities fraud offense she pleaded guilty to, and to pay restitution.

The charge of securities fraud is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.

Sentencing is set for July 27, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Boise.

Gillispie has pleaded not guilty. A trial is set for July 15.

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 Eagle-based company being a sham.

A Boise grand jury indicted Gillispie, 71, and Ransom, 40, both of Meridian, for allegedly running a scheme that duped investors to buy the company’s stock at an artificially inflated price and then funneled the money to the pair.

According to court documents, Gillispie and Ransom recruited family members and others to purchase AEHI stock, provided them with company funds, and instructed them on the timing, quantity and price in an attempt to artificially inflate the price.

From the $14 million in investor money received, Gillispie and Ransom “received significant salaries and other compensation that they did not report as income to the Internal Revenue Service,” according to the indictment.