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Fake JSC college IDs played a role in federal fraud fiasco

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United States District Court, Burlington, Vermont

United States District Court, Burlington, Vermont

Burlington Free Press

Burlington Free Press

United States District Court, Burlington, Vermont

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Johnson State College Security Officer Michael Laflin testified as one of 30 witnesses to a $1.6 million fraud case during the first week of Nov.

When the trial concluded on Nov. 7, the defendant, Alison Gu, 41, of Winhall, Vermont was found guilty of three felonies by the U.S. District Court in Burlington. Her charges included committing bank fraud between 2013 and 2015; falsifying information on a U.S. Passport application in March 2015 and for aggravated identity theft that same month.

Among the evidence were four fake JSC identification cards that Gu had obtained, in which she posed as both a student and a professor.

Laflin was subpoenaed by the court to verify that the IDs were in fact counterfeit. “They weren’t even in the ball park,” he said. “Basically, the only thing that was right was the Johnson State College logo. Other than that, nothing else was correct. It didn’t take a genius to figure that out.”

Gu also acquired the social security numbers and dates of birth of two previously deceased children, including that of a little girl who was killed in a mass school shooting in Stockton, CA in 1989.

Court records show that Gu used the stolen information, bogus JSC IDs, and at least nine aliases to obtain multiple drivers licenses and U.S. Passports. She then proceeded to secure fraudulent home mortgage loans at five financial institutions: Bank of Bennington, Discover Home Loans, Emigrant Mortgage Company, First National Bank of America, and Prime Lending.

The federal indictment states that Gu used the illegal funds to purchase properties in Cocoa Beach, Florida, Cheshire, Connecticut, and in Dorset and Winhall, Vermont, all of which will be forfeited.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Doyle stated that as recently as two weeks ago she had tried to buy back the Dorset, Vermont, home by making a $10,000 deposit to Bank of Bennington after they had begun the foreclosure process but was denied.

Gu, a mother of three, was aided and abetted by her boyfriend, Matthew Abel, 45, of Montpelier, Vermont, who plead guilty to one count of bank fraud in Oct. The couple previously shared the Cheshire, Connecticut and Winhall, Vermont houses.

A 2016 raid of Gu’s Connecticut property proved crucial to the prosecution’s case, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized two embossing seals that belonged to out-of-state judges, as well as credit cards and the aforementioned driver’s licenses.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release, Chief United States District Judge Christina Reiss ordered Gu remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after the jury issued their verdict. Her sentencing is not yet scheduled but should occur in four months, with her crimes carrying a minimum sentence of two years incarceration and a maximum of 30 years.

Despite the involvement of Gu’s phony JSC IDs in the crime, Laflin doesn’t foresee much of an effect on the college as a result. “I don’t think this will have any impact on JSC,” he said. “We are going to have to change the IDs anyway with the consolidation of the two colleges, but I don’t see any specific changes coming because of this.”

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Fake JSC college IDs played a role in federal fraud fiasco