In a story published Sunday, VTDigger.org reported that the probe into Mrs. Bernie Sanders’, Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, had progressed to the grand jury level. Mrs. Sanders is being investigated for possible fraud in a land deal she orchestrated that led to the destruction of the little hippie college she led.
If it’s at the grand jury level, it would seem feds are seeking indictments, at least that’s what VT Digger believes.
For two years, investigators have looked into Mrs. Sanders possible misstatement – overstatement – of pledged donations to secure a bank loan. There is also a concern about the bank being bullied into giving the loan. As it turns out, the loan could not be paid back in full and the college had to fold.
They bought acreage from the Catholic Archdiocese for a new site for the college. The archdiocese was content with the amount of money they received for the land although they were shorted in the end. They did not file a complaint. The complaint came from a local lawyer who found that the pledges did not add up to what Mrs. Sanders alleged they had received.
The person who spoke before a grand jury was former Burlington College board member Robin Lloyd who was a Sanders-friendly witness. She told VTDigger that she testified before a grand jury last October at the federal courthouse in Burlington. She said that Paul Van de Graaf, who heads the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont, questioned her for an hour about the college’s attempts to secure pledges to buy a $10 million campus.
“The first time two FBI guys came around I said I would only talk to them with my lawyer,” Lloyd said. “Of course, I didn’t have a lawyer at that point. So I did get a lawyer, but I didn’t call them back. So then the next visit was this subpoena to appear before the grand jury.”
Lloyd said she and her attorney, Charlotte Dennett, met with Van de Graaf and then appeared before a grand jury on Thursday, October 26 — roughly two weeks after the FBI agents showed up at her door.
Two other board members met with the FBI but were not called before a grand jury.
A family spokesman Jeff Weaver cast doubt.
“We have absolutely no reason to believe that there is a grand jury empaneled to examine Burlington College, Jane Sanders, or any aspect of Dr. Sanders’ service as president of Burlington College,” said Weaver, who has previously served as the senator’s chief of staff and campaign manager. “As best we can tell, the current news reports are simply recycling an account of a government interview of a witness from several months ago. Nothing new here.”
Lloyd isn’t sure if the grand jury was hearing evidence in the Burlington College fraud case. She might have been called before the grand jury because she declined to speak with the FBI. She’s a supportive witness who doesn’t blame Mrs. Sanders for the collapse of the college.
“They’re trying to pull together where did the money come from to enable Burlington College to convince (People’s United Bank) and the diocese to go ahead with the deal,” Lloyd said.
Mrs. Sanders might not have engaged in fraud. As a committed socialist, she might just be incompetent with money, like her socialist husband.