Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Bizarre Tale of Don Gillispie: A $10B Nuclear Plant, a Pretty Blonde and a Dog Named Bosco

Posted By on Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Over the years, Boise Weekly followed Don Gillispie—the embattled CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings, who had a scheme to build a $10 billion nuclear reactor in Idaho—from Owyhee to Elmore to Payette counties, and ultimately to the federal courthouse in Boise. But this week, Gillispie's colorful journey may have finally come to an end when a federal grand jury handed up an indictment against him and a former AEHI vice president, accusing them of conspiracy, fraud and lying to the Internal Revenue Service.

Gillispie's plan to build a nuclear reactor was told "no" or "conditional maybe's" by officials in Elmore and Owyhee counties, but it was Payette County officials who reacted favorably to his grand plan.

"Look here," said Payette County Planning and Zoning Commissioner Farrell Rawlings in 2010. "Our governor is in favor of this. Every mayor in our county is in favor of this. Our chamber of commerce is in favor of this."

That was music to Gillispie's ears, telling Payette P&Z commissioners, "This county will have more money than you'll know what to do with."

Payette County Planning and Zoning commissioners gave Gillispie a green light in December 2010, when they agreed to rezone nearly 5,000 acres of rural land from agricultural to industrial use for Gillispie's nuclear dream. Gillispie was promising 5,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs if his nuclear reactor was ever built.

That was then.

Over the years, Gillispie's AEHI started taking in millions of dollars of investor money. In fact, federal prosecutors told Boise Weekly in 2012 that Gillispie started spending investors' money without any explanation.

Theen there was Jennifer Ransom and her little dog Bosco.

Ransom is a pretty blonde. That's exactly how Gillispie described her in a 2012 deposition. Asked about his many international travels with Ransom, Gillispie spoke of their trips to the Far East.

"Quite frankly, Asians like a pretty blonde face to look at," said Gillispie. "So it doesn't hurt."

Gillispie hired Ransom in 2008. Just exactly what her duties were was the topic of much debate during the federal court hearings. AEHI attorneys presented her as a secretary with "no day-to-day responsibilities." Her official title was senior vice president, but Ransom was quick to remind anyone who would listen that she was no longer an employee of AEHI. Rather, she said, she was the president of Energy Neutral, a company founded by Gillispie.

Finally, the mysterious Bosco. On numerous occasions during the hearing, attorneys referred to something called Bosco Financial, LLC, through which hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed.

"Bosco is a family dog," Ransom told BW. "It's the name of my consulting company." Ransom confirmed that her only client was Gillispie's AEHI.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Gillispie was "pumping and dumping"—manipulating AEHI stock through false statements and allowing key management to sell shares at inflated prices. The SEC also said that Gillispie and Ransom tried to hide their stock sales, inflated salaries and trips to exotic locales including Acapulco, Mexico; the Bellagio in Las Vegas; and the Far East.

Gillispie resigned as AEHI's CEO in late 2012 citing "health concerns."

Now, Gillispie and Ransom are facing 14 counts of alleged federal crimes. Gillispie pleaded not-guilty in a federal court arraignment on Friday. Ransom's arraignment is expected to occur this coming week.

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