The FBI investigation into a 2010 property deal orchestrated by Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), has taken another step, as an empaneled grand jury was convened to compel testimony from at least one witness in the case.
As VTDigger reports, "Former Burlington College board member Robin Lloyd says she testified for about an 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, asked Lloyd regarding her tenure as the development chair of the college’s board of trustees.
The grand jury will decide whether or not to indict Jane Sanders because of the $10 million loan she initiated in order to buy a 33-acre property for Burlington College, where she was president, and which later went defunct. Jane Sanders has been accused of lying about the transaction; claims that her husband pressured the bank to approve the loan are being investigated.
Last summer Politico confirmed that the couple had hired attorneys to help deal with the investigation.
The story of Jane Sanders’ alleged malfeasance began in 2004, when Jane Sanders became president of Burlington College. Intent on helping the college grow, she announced a $6 million plan to expand the campus in 2006. Despite the fact that her stewardship was oft-criticized, as noted later in a 2016 essay on the college written by a former teacher Greg Guma, who wrote, "Nearly half of the students and faculty members signed a petition demanding a meeting about the "Crisis in leadership," her salary rose to $150,000 in 2009.
In 2010, Jane Sanders announced her plan to move the college to lakefront real estate in Northern Burlington, which was owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese. The church sold the property to Sanders for $10 million, despite the fact that Burlington College was almost bankrupt. Sanders financed the deal by obtaining a $6.5 million loan from People's United Bank in the form of a tax exempt bond purchase; the Catholic Church agreed to carry a $3.65 million second mortgage on the property.
But here’s the rub: Sanders allegedly told the bank and the Church that Burlington College had $5 million in likely donor pledges and $2.4 million in confirmed pledges in order to convince them the college could pay off the debt.
As Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge reports,
Unfortunately, that was just for the land. Sanders apparently didn't plan for the $6 million or so required to actually build out the campus on the property to include green space, athletic fields, lecture halls, and walkways. Compounding an already dire situation, Sanders' original claim of $2.4 million in confirmed donor pledges was quickly reduced to $1.2 million according to documents filed in the first fiscal year after the purchase - yet in records obtained by VTDigger, Burlington College received only $279,000.
Jane Sanders was fired, but received a $200,000 severance package. Meanwhile, Burlington College sold parts of the 33-acre property to a local developer to pay off some of the debt Jane Sanders had accrued. But in April 2016 the bank called the loan in, and in late May, the college closed. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington lost as much as $2 million on the $3.65 million loan.