Politico has confirmed that Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane have retained high powered DC lawyers amidst an FBI fraud investigation. Jane Sanders orchestrated a $10 million loan for the now defunct Burlington College to purchase a 33 acre property, reportedly obtained through a ‘fraudulent scheme.’ Sanders is accused of having lied about funding for transaction, while the FBI is also looking into claims that Bernie Sanders’ office pressured the bank to approve the loan.
The original request for an investigation into Federal bank fraud was sent in a January 2016 letter to the Vermont District Attorney as well as the FDIC by Brady Toensing – an attorney and chair of Donald Trump’s Vermont campaign. The letter detailed the mechanics of the alleged fraud, which is what reportedly launched official investigations. Toensing told Politico on Thursday “The investigation was started more than a year ago under President Obama, his Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and his United States Attorney, all of whom are Democrats.”
If true, the Sanders’ could be in some serious trouble.
The whole Burlington College Saga…
In 2004, Jane Sanders left her position as her husband’s congressional chief of staff to become president of the unaccredited and struggling Burlington College – founded in 1972 and operated out of a former grocery store. When Sanders took over as a “turnaround” president, she set out to rapidly grow the college – announcing a $6 million plan to expand the campus in 2006 which never came to fruition.
Inside of Burlington College, Sanders was earning a as reputation for her “toxic and disruptive” leadership style, and in late 2008, according to a 2016 essay on the college written by a former teacher Greg Guma, “Nearly half of the students and faculty members signed a petition demanding a meeting about the “Crisis in leadership,” while Jane Sanders’ salary rose to $150,000 in 2009 amidst a tuition hike from $5,000 to $22,407 in 2011. Meanwhile, enrollment dropped by almost 25%.
In 2008, literature professor Genese Grill wrote to the school’s academic affairs committee, describing Sanders’ “harassment and unethical treatment of other faculty and staff members, many of whom have since left the college disgruntled and angry.”
And in 2010, Jane Sanders announced a plan to move the tiny underfunded Burlington college onto a 33 acre parcel of valuable lakefront real estate in Northern Burlington. “It was the last piece of undeveloped, prime property on the lake shore,” according to Guma.
The property was owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese, which was strapped for cash after recently settling over two dozen sexual abuse lawsuits for $17.76 million. The 33 acre property hit the market for $12.5 million, and the church agreed to take Jane Sanders’ offer of $10 million.
Scheming for loans
When Jane Sanders made the offer to the Roman Catholic Diocese, Burlington College was nearly broke – with an annual budget just below $4 million. In order to finance the property, Sanders secured a $6.5 million loan from People’s United Bank in the form of a tax exempt bond purchase, and the Catholic Church agreed to carry a $3.65 million second mortgage on the property. Sanders told both institutions that Burlington college had $5 million in likely donor pledges and $2.4 million in confirmed pledges to be used to pay off the debt.
But wait – that was just for the property!
What Jane Sanders didn’t plan for was the $6 million or so required to actually build out the campus on the property to include green space, athletic fields, lecture halls, and walkways. Oops!
Sanders’ original claim of $2.4 million in confirmed donor pledges was quickly reduced to $1.2 million according to documents filed in the first fiscal year after the purchase – yet in records obtained by VTDigger, Burlington College received only $279,000. Despite hopes by Sanders and college trustees that they could boost enrollment and expand the student body, nothing changed – and the school failed at raising the money to satisfy it’s loans.
And then Jane Sanders was fired, with a $200,000 severance package.
In order to try and avoid bankruptcy, Burlington college sold off pieces of the 33 acre property to a local developer – which allowed the institution to pay off some of the debt Jane Sanders had accumulated, however in April 2016 the bank called it’s loan – and on May 28th, the college closed it’s doors after 44 years in operation.
FBI ON THE CASE!
[F]ederal investigators and FBI agents started to pull apart the $10 million financial arrangement. They showed up at Burlington College to sift through hard drives, audit reports and spreadsheets. They began to interview donors, board members and past president Carol Moore. “I was contacted and spoke with an FBI agent numerous times last spring, again last summer,” Moore told Vermont Public Radio in May 2017, “and recently, maybe a month ago.”
And now, it appears the Sanders’ are preparing for battle…
While the Obama-era FBI and DOJ under James Comey and Loretta Lynch may have gone soft on Bernie and Jane Sanders, their recent lawyering up suggests there’s a storm on the horizon for Vermont’s most famous fake socialists.Comments »