Former Executive of Nuclear Power Company Sentenced
Jennifer R. Ransom to Serve 30 Months in Prison
BOISE - Jennifer R. Ransom, 41, of Meridian, Idaho, was sentenced today in United States District Court to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release—the first six months of which is home confinement--for the crime of securities fraud, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Senior United States District Judge Edward J. Lodge also ordered Ransom to forfeit $580,780 and pay $116,138 in restitution to victim-investors. Ransom pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud on April 21, 2015.
According to the plea agreement, Ransom was the Senior Vice President of Administration of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. (“AEHI”). AEHI was a development stage company headquartered in Eagle, Idaho, that planned to construct and operate a nuclear power plant in Payette County, Idaho.
According to the plea agreement, Ransom joined AEHI in late 2007. Prior to joining AEHI, Ransom took and passed the Series 63 examination, one of the tests required to become a licensed Securities Agent, and knew it was wrongful and unlawful to engage in conduct that was designed to defraud or deceive investors by artificially controlling or fraudulently affecting the price of securities. Notwithstanding, she agreed with her co-defendant, Donald L. Gillispie, the former President and CEO of AEHI, and other “nominees” to a scheme to defraud or deceive AEHI investors.
According to the plea agreement, the scheme involved Gillispie and Ransom recruiting nominees to make purchases of AEHI stock on the market for the express purpose of artificially inflating the market price of AEHI stock. Ransom personally helped recruit one of the nominees. Without investors’ knowledge, Gillispie and Ransom provided AEHI funds, obtained almost exclusively from investors, to two of the nominees to fund their market purchases of AEHI stock.
According to the plea agreement, investors who purchased AEHI stock directly from AEHI, through Private Placement Memoranda (PPM), were offered a price discounted from the market price that nominees were attempting to inflate. However, PPM investors could only purchase restricted AEHI stock, which they could not sell for six months to one year. On September 9, 2009 through September 11, 2009, Ransom assisted a nominee in making purchases of AEHI stock on the market. The purpose of these purchases was to artificially increase the market price of AEHI stock, which was trading above the PPM price. During the next two months, private investors bought approximately $516,885 worth of AEHI restricted stock at the lower PPM price.
According to the plea agreement, Ransom received shares of AEHI stock as executive compensation. From June of 2010 through September of 2010, a period during which attempts were being made to artificially inflate the market price of AEHI stock, Ransom sold approximately 1,000,000 of her shares and received approximately $675,326 in return, of which approximately $580,780 was the proceeds 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 Olson. “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.”
In May of 2015, Ms. Ransom’s co-defendant, Donald Gillispie, failed to appear for two scheduled arraignment hearings. He remains a fugitive and is being pursued by the United States Marshals Service.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Today's announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.