A judge on Tuesday sentenced a former Columbus, Ohio, bakery owner who stole the identity of a deceased baby and $1.5 million in pandemic relief funds to six years in prison.
Ava Misseldine, 49, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of wire and passport fraud. Misseldine used the baby’s identity to obtain a passport, a student pilot license, a job as a flight attendant and the pandemic relief funds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Ohio said in a press release.
Court documents reviewed by Law & Crime show Misseldine stole the identity of an infant named Brie Bourgeois who died in 1979 and is buried in a Columbus cemetery. She applied for an Ohio driver’s license and Social Security card in 2003 and, in 2007, obtained a student pilot license and U.S. passport, which she needed to fly internationally as a flight attendant for a private plane company, JetSelect.
She continued to use the identity over the next 13 years, including during a federal bankruptcy hearing in 2014, court documents show. An investigation was launched in 2021 after Misseldine tried to renew her passport, which was flagged for potential fraud.
Misseldine used both her real and fake names to receive the $1.5 million of relief funds, court records say.
“Her loan applications list her businesses as various bakeries and catering companies, including her former bakeries Sugar Inc. Cupcakes & Tea Salon in Dublin and Koko Tea Salon & Bakery in New Albany and at Easton. She submitted forged documents to support her loan applications,” the press release said.
She bought homes in Utah near Zion National Park for nearly $650,000 and in Michigan for more than $325,000, according to court documents. As part of her $1.5 million restitution, she’ll have to forfeit the Utah home and give back the funds from the recent sale of the Michigan house.
After relocating to Utah, Misseldine obtained driver’s licenses in her real and fake names. She was arrested in June 2022 and pleaded guilty last October.
In a statement, Misseldine’s attorney Alan Pfeuffer, said his client should be able to pay back full restitution with the sale of the Utah home.
“Ava is very remorseful over her past criminal behavior; and, at sentencing she read a very emotional statement accepting responsibility for her actions, and outlying her plans to seek counseling while in prison and continue the prison ministry/bible study program she started while incarcerated at the Butler County Jail,” he said.
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