Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has an ambitious wife — and it could land her in jail.
Jane O’Meara Sanders is the former president of Burlington College. She was hired in 2004 and claimed herself to be a “turnaround president.”
Ironically, though, she only turned the college into the ground.
Her plan to expand the campus from a small, cramped college to a flourishing lakefront property in 2010 resulting in a overwhelmingly crushing debt.
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In 2010 under Jane’s leadership, Burlington College purchased a new lakefront campus for $10 million. Only ten months following the big purchase, Jane resigned citing “different visions for the future” with the board of trustees.
By June of 2014, the college’s accreditation was at stake due to their deep financial woes from debt.
Two years later, Jane was accused of bank fraud by an attorney in relation to her lakefront campus purchase. The attorney also accused Bernie Sanders of illegally using his office to pressure People’s United Bank to approve his wife’s loan.
The crushing weight of debt eventually led Burlington College to close down in May of 2016 due almost exclusively to the property deal made by Jane.
“There were no problems when I left. It was great. It was poised for soaring,” Sanders said in a 2015 interview with The Burlington Free Press. “I have no doubt that had we worked out a good transition plan, or had I stayed, that it would have been wonderful.”
For Burlington College, Jane’s lakefront campus was a golden ticket to a major expansion.
“I felt, to the detriment of the school, that the development plan wasn’t implemented, the plan for the college,” Sanders said in the 2015 interview. “Everything that we said, ‘We’ll do this, this, this, this, this’ — nothing happened.”
Critics say she’s in complete denial about her wrongdoings… or, simply lying through her teeth.
“Burlington College borrowed heavily to finance the purchase of 33 acres of lakefront property from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington,” stated VTDigger.
The deal relied heavily on pledged donations and increased enrollment… which never happened. It was reported that Jane then overstated donations that she did receive on the loan application to push the deal through.
If true, that’s felony fraud.
Two of the donors allegedly reported that the loan application showed a greater pledge than what they had given. And another donor listed on the application Move Maietta, a member of the renowned Burlington Bove’s Restaurant family, highly disputed the manner of which her pledge was represented.
Now, the noose is tightening. VTDigger confirmed Sunday that a grand jury has compelled sworn witness testimony in the case.
“The Vermont U.S. Attorney’s office has interviewed at least one witness before the grand jury to determine whether indictments should be handed down,” explained VTDigger.
A former board member of the college, Robin Lloyd has confirmed that she testified for a full hour on Oct. 26 before a grand jury at the federal courthouse in Burlington.
Paul Van de Graaf, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney’s office in Vermont, questioned Lloyd about her role on the board during Jane’s leadership.
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In her interview with Van de Graaf, Lloyd explained that she “was focused on what I knew about who had been approached for contributions.”
“I helped provide a timeline of what happened — and when — in terms of development,” Lloyd said. “It was general questions about donors, and money coming in,” he said.
Jeff Weaver, a spokesman for the Sanders and his former campaign manager, denied the Sanders family has done anything wrong and claimed they did not have any part in the college’s demise.
“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. 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,” said Weaver.
It is unclear if any other board members have appeared before a grand jury, but it is clear that this ongoing investigation is breaking down the Sanders family.
Things are not looking good for the Sanders.
–The Horn editorial team