Details are beginning to surface of a fraud investigation that began in 2016 as a result of complaints about Jane Sanders and her role in obtaining multi-million-dollar loans for a now defunct (closed in May ’16) Burlington University. Many people might remember the origins of this story which began long before the presidential primary season last year.
BACKSTORY – At the end of 2010, Mrs. Jane Sanders took out $10 million in loans on behalf of Burlington College to purchase a 32-acre swathe of land from the Roman Catholic diocese, which put the land up for sale to help cover the costs of a $17 million sexual-abuse settlement
As Ms. Sanders pursued financing for the land acquisition, she repeatedly said that Burlington College had received more than $2 million in fundraising commitments and pledges, according to numerous records. However, in fiscal year 2011, Burlington College raised only $279,000, though the college had earlier claimed to have secured $1.2 million in confirmed pledges.
The college almost immediately fell short on its financial obligations as the fundraising pledges and commitments Ms. Sanders cited in loan agreements never materialized. Less than a year after leading Burlington College into massive debt, Ms. Sanders resigned, taking with her a $200,000 severance package. The college was forced to close in 2016.
In January 2016, just prior to the college closing, Vermont lawyer Brady Toensing, who is also vice chair of the Vermont Republican Party, wrote a letter on behalf of Catholic parishioners to the U.S. attorney in Vermont, as well as the inspector general of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), seeking a probe into whether Ms. Sanders fraudulently secured the loans. The U.S. attorney, Eric Miller, confirmed that he had received the parishioners’ letter but would not comment on the status of any investigation.
CBS reports today that an FBI fraud investigation did actually begin, and now Jane and Bernie Sanders have hired a high powered legal firm to defend themselves against any potential criminal or civil charges.
(Via CBS News) Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his wife, Jane Sanders have hired prominent defense attorneys amid an FBI investigation into a loan Jane Sanders obtained to expand Burlington College while she was its president, CBS News confirms.
Politico Magazine first reported the Sanders had hired lawyers to defend them in the probe. Sanders’ top adviser Jeff Weaver told CBS News the couple has sought legal protection over federal agents’ allegations from a January 2016 complaint accusing then-President of Burlington College, Ms. Sanders, of distorting donor levels in a 2010 loan application for $10 million from People’s United Bank to purchase 33 acres of land for the institution.
According to Politico, prosecutors might also be looking into allegations that Sen. Sanders’ office inappropriately urged the bank to approve the loan. (continue reading)