- George Prentice
- This bullet-riddled sign stood on the site of where Gillispie and Ransom had promised to build a nuclear facility in Payette County.
Jennifer Ransom was described by her boss, Don Gillispie, as a "pretty blonde" and used as arm candy on numerous trips to court investors for his plan to build a $10 billion nuclear reactor in Idaho.
"Quite frankly, Asians like a pretty blonde face to look at. So, it doesn't hurt," Gillispie told federal prosecutors, referring to the numerous trips he and Ransom had taken together, including to the Far East. Gillispie's attorneys, meanwhile, presented Ransom as a secretary with "no day-to-day responsibilities."
During a February 2011 federal court hearing, attorneys for Gillispie's Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. referred to an entity called Bosco Financial LLC, through which hundreds of thousands of dollars attached to the reactor scheme had flowed. Ransom later told Boise Weekly "Bosco" was the name of a family dog. A few months later, Ransom resigned from AEHI, citing "significant health-related issues."
Ultimately, Ransom, the former vice president of AEHI, admitted to securities fraud as part of Gillispie's elaborate "pump and dump" stock practice. On Thursday, Ransom, 41, of Meridian, was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release—the first six months being home confinement. Additionally, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced Jan. 7 that Ransom was ordered to forfeit $580,780 and pay $116,138 extra in restitution to AEHI's investors/victims.
“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.”
Gillispie first fronted his reactor plan in Elmore County, then moved to Owyhee and, finally, Payette counties. 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."
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.
"This county will have more money than you'll know what to do with," Gillispie promised Payette P&Z commissioners.
Gillispie's fate was sealed in May 2015, when he refused to show for two scheduled hearings at the U.S. Courthouse in Boise. He remains a fugitive and is being pursued by the U.S. Marshals Service.