April 19, 2016
Jane O'Meara Sanders Loan Fraud Probe: Catholic Parishioners Request Federal Investigation Of Bernie Sanders' Wife

Jane O'Meara Sanders could be under investigation for committing loan fraud when she was the president of Burlington College in Vermont. Catholic parishioners are reportedly requesting a federal probe into the matter.

Parishioners believe Bernie Sanders' wife committed fraud by allegedly exaggerating the amount of money the college could raise in order to secure millions for a land deal, according to Fox News.

Heat Street had an in-depth report surrounding the allegations against Jane O'Meara Sanders. The vice chair of the Vermont GOP, Brady Toensing, sent out a letter to the U.S. attorney in January regarding the fraud accusations, which originate from Sanders' time as president of Burlington College between 2004 and 2011. As she approached the end of her tenure, she secured loans for a $10 million purchase of 32 acres from the Roman Catholic diocese that was to be utilized as part of a campus expansion project.

Sanders claimed that Burlington College had over $2 million in fundraising commitments and pledges, which helped to secure a tax-exempt extended loan by the People's United Bank for $6.7 million. In addition to that, the diocese reportedly underwrote a $3.7 million loan. This gave its debt repayment lower priority than the bank's, according to the report.

The ambitious fundraising pledges didn't come close to the amount Sanders claimed. One local report wrote that the college raised just $279,000 in fiscal 2011. As a result, the diocese didn't receive the full repayment of the loan and lost $1.6 million to $2 million, according to the investigation papers.

Earlier this year, a spokesperson for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called these accusations "recycled, discredited garbage."

Fox News reports Heat Street is a new blog owned by News Corp. that launched Monday, which aims to "challenge political correctness and 'safe space' culture."

This story isn't new. According to a report by the Daily Caller in March 2015, Jane O'Meara Sanders was suspected of loan fraud when she was the president of Burlington College.

"Jane Sanders was the president of tiny Burlington College in Burlington, Vermont for seven years, from 2004 until 2011," the report states. "During her tenure, Sanders masterminded an ambitious expansion plan that would have more than doubled the size of the school. To do so, she had the college take on $10 million in debt to finance the purchase of a new, far more expansive campus. The move backfired massively, leading to Sanders' departure from the college and the near-collapse of the institution."

The website had attorney Jonna Spilbor review the legal documents, who called it a "pretty sophisticated crime" by exaggerating donor commitments in order to secure a major loan.

According to the report, in order to finance the land purchase, Burlington College presented its case to the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency (VEHBFA), a state agency that approves and issues tax-exempt state bonds for non-profit institutions, such as schools and hospitals.

Research conducted by the DC added that their research "indicates that Sanders may not just be guilty of bad judgment, but potentially criminal activity enabled by Vermont officials willing to implicitly trust the wife of a sitting senator."

The DC reached out to Jane Sanders for her reaction to the loan fraud scandal. She vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

"We gave the entire VEHBFA board very clear indications of what money was in hand; what money was expected; what money was absolutely not able to be revoked; so I don't know what to tell you," she said.

"I do know that everything was very straightforward," Sanders maintained, adding that the plan "was approved by our board of trustees, by the Republican governor of Vermont, by the VEHBFA board, and by the bank's board, so it was not some pie in the sky."

Spilbor noted that it's not just Bernie Sanders' wife who could shoulder the blame but also the People's Bank for providing the loan.

[Photo by Erik Kabik Photography/MediaPunch/IPX/AP Images]