A Meridian, Idaho woman was sentenced to 30 months in prison Thursday for securities fraud. Jennifer R. Ransom, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud on April 21, 2015.
Ransom appeared before Judge Edward J. Lodge in U.S. District Court in Boise. She will spend the first six months of her sentence under home confinement. Ransom was also ordered to forfeit $580,780 and pay $116,138 in restitution to victim-investors.
According to a plea agreement, Ransom was Senior Vice President of Administration of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. Headquarter in Eagle, Idaho, the development stage company was planning to construct and operate a nuclear power plant in Payette County.
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.
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.
Ransom’s co-defendant, Donald Gillespie, failed to appear for two scheduled arraignment hearings in May of 2015. He is a fugitive and is being pursued by the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
The prosecution 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.