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Most Wanted: Don Gillispie, Who Convinced Payette County That He Would Build Nuke Plant, On the Lam



Do you know this man? Sure you do. That's Don Gillispie, the Idaho businessman who couldn't stop talking about his scheme to build a $10 billion nuclear reactor. He's also now wanted by U.S. Marshals and listed on the Crime Stoppers of Southwest Idaho Most Wanted list with an outstanding warrant for alleged wire fraud issued by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge.

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, Lodge reissued an order that Gillispie and his former company, Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., 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 currently set for Sept. 22, though Ransom's attorney filed an unopposed motion Aug. 12 to postpone the proceedings until November, citing Gillispie's flight.

"Jennifer Ransom is cooperating with the United States and is expected to testify ... against Donald Gillispie at trial," wrote attorney Charles Peterson.

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 he and Ransom had taken together, including to the "Far East," as he described the region. 

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."

Now Gillispie is in the ultimate dog house after Lodge said Gillispie twice failed to appear for the arraignment on his indictment.

"Defendant's whereabouts remain unknown," wrote Lodge. "Accordingly the Court concludes that the delay beginning on May 15, 2015 was caused by the Defendant's absence to avoid apprehension or prosecution."