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Two Courthouse No-Shows Trigger Bench Warrant for AEHI Exec Don Gillispie

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Don Gillispie
  • Don Gillispie
Once upon a time, Don Gillispie wouldn't stop talking about his scheme to build a commercial nuclear reactor in Idaho, popping up just about anywhere to pump his idea of a $10 billion power plant. But prosecutors said he was also inflating the stock value of his company, Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., through pump-and-dump tactics: sending out carefully crafted press releases that triggered a bump in his company's shares, then liquidating large amounts of the shares for cash windfalls.

Now there's a bench warrant out for the man who promised thousands of jobs and untold financial benefits to anyone who would listen.

Boise Weekly followed Gillispie from Elmore to Owyhee to Payette counties, where he touted his idea to build a nuclear reactor. Most public officials scoffed at the idea, but when Gillispie stood before the Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission, they were all ears.

"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."

"This county will have more money than you'll know what to do with," Gillispie promised Payette P&Z commissioners.

Ultimately, Payette County gave Gillispie a green light in December 2010, when planners agreed to rezone nearly 5,000 acres of rural land from agricultural to industrial use to make way for the nuclear dream. Gillispie was promising 5,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs if his reactor was ever built.

BW also followed Gillispie to the U.S. courthouse in Boise in 2012, when he was officially charged with conspiracy and securities fraud. When he was scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing—twice—this past week, he was a no-show. In addition to a bench warrant calling for his arrest, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge reissued an order that Gillispie and AEHI halt any future stock activity and pay back millions of dollars to hundreds of investors.

In April, former AEHI Vice President Jennifer Ransom pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud, a charge punishable by up to five years in prison. Her sentencing is set for July 27.

AEHI attorneys presented Ransom as a secretary with "no day-to-day responsibilities," and Gillispie described her as a "pretty blonde" that he would flaunt in front of Asian business partners during the numerous trips that he and Ransom had taken together, including to the Far East. During a February 2011 hearing, AEHI attorneys referred to something called Bosco Financial LLC, through which hundreds of thousands of dollars had flowed. Ransom later told BW that "Bosco" was the name of a family dog. A few months later, Ransom resigned from AEHI, citing "significant health-related issues."

Prosecutors said they're still hoping to launch Gillispie's trial on charges of fraud and conspiracy this July.