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By Steve Birr
The FBI investigation into allegations Jane Sanders, wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, defrauded a bank while president of a local college is reportedly intensifying.
A state official received a subpoena for a grand jury and a half dozen people with links to Burlington College were interviewed in recent weeks by the FBI. The subpoena requires the individual provide to a grand jury documentation related to the ongoing investigation of Jane Sanders for alleged bank fraud, James Foley Jr., a lawyer representing the unidentified state official, confirmed to The Washington Post Monday.
Former trustees for the now defunct college also confirmed to The Washington Post lawyers representing Jane Sanders interviewed the former school officials to learn what they might reveal to investigators. Prosecutors have reportedly taken dozens of boxes of school documents related to Jane Sanders’ time at the college in the past month.
Jane Sanders served as president of Burlington College from 2004 until 2011 and is blamed for leading the school into bankruptcy by falsifying a loan application. Sanders retained counsel in June to defend herself against the allegations.
As part of an ambitious plan to boost enrollment at the college during her tenure as president, Sanders had the college take on $10 million in debt to purchase a piece of land to expand the campus.
Sanders stated in a 2010 loan application she had secured $2.6 million in promised donations to pay for the land purchase, which helped secure a $6.7 million loan from the People’s United Bank. Only $676,000 ever materialized over the next four years and the college defaulted on the loans, eventually going bankrupt in May 2016.
The Daily Caller News Foundation first broke the news of the allegations against Jane Sanders in March 2015.
Carol Moore, who served as the final president of the college from 2014 until its closure in May 2016, places blame for the bankruptcy squarely on Jane Sanders. Moore confirmed to TheDCNF in May the FBI contacted her as recently as a month ago regarding the allegations.
Brady Toensing, a lawyer based in Washington, D.C., made a formal request to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont and the Inspector General of the FDIC in January 2016 to investigate the allegations of fraud against Sanders. Among the evidence Toensing asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate were claims that the senator’s office pressured People’s United Bank to approve the $6.7 million loan.
Vermont House Minority Leader Don Turner recently confirmed to Vermont Digger he is the source behind claims the senator’s office got involved. During a conversation with local bankers who did not work directly on the loan, Turner said one of the bankers brought up the subject that Sen. Sanders office contacted People’s United Bank.
“The substance was the bank was reluctant to do the loan, and (the former employee) had heard that the Senator’s office had encouraged the bank to do the loan, and that’s what the conversation was about,” Turner told VT Digger.
Jeff Weaver, a representative of Sanders released a statement May 3 to Vermont Public Radio, saying the FBI had not yet contacted Jane Sanders, and all they know about the allegations is what they have seen in the press. He added to The Washington Post Monday the investigation is a Republican led witch hunt attempting to diminish Sen. Sanders, “right out of the Benghazi playbook.”
“But it is particularly nasty even for them — going after a political opponent’s spouse,” Weaver told The Washington Post.
Sen. Sanders has also said the allegations are politically motivated and called attacks on his wife “fairly pathetic.”