SEC: Freeze ID company's assets; DOJ starts probe

Associated Press Modified: November 2, 2012 at 8:30 pm •  Published: November 2, 2012

For years, Gillispie's tiny company has been promoting to investors that it aims to build a nuclear power plant somewhere in Idaho.

In December 2010, the SEC filed a civil lawsuit, alleging Gillispie and others had engaged in a fraudulent scheme to inflate the value of its shares to lure investors and enrich themselves. The case is ongoing.

On Friday, spokesman Dan Hamilton contends the SEC is yet again using the courts to put AEHI out of business.

He said the $2 million was placed in an escrow account controlled by the Nevada law firm as part of AEHI's plans to make investments and recoup some of the money that it's spent fighting the federal securities regulator's allegations. Hamilton said the money was transferred, not spent; consequently, the transaction that didn't violate Lodge's order two years ago.

"We never filed on this because we never spent the money," Hamilton said. "It was never supposed to be spent. We just moved it from one account to another."

The SEC contends AEHI committed its last remaining $2 million — down from $7 million in February 2011 — to what was a phony investment scheme.

Hamilton said his company has spent most of the difference on attorneys, trying to fight off the SEC.

"There's no doubt, this court action has taken its toll on the company," he said.

Hamilton confirmed AEHI's roughly 900 shareholders in August received questionnaires from U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors. While the SEC handles civil litigation, any potential criminal charges against AEHI would have to come from the Justice Department.

Prosecutors "asked stockholders about how they bought their stock," Hamilton said, describing the questionnaire.

Assistant U.S. attorney Ray Patricco in Boise on Friday afternoon declined to comment on the questionnaire. He said the office could neither confirm nor deny a criminal investigation.