- An Ohio woman was arrested in Utah for charges of passport fraud, Social Security number fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
- Ava Misseldine reportedly took the name of Brie Bourgeois, a baby who died in 1979 in Columbus, Ohio.
- She allegedly used both names in tandem to obtain $1.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans.
An Ohio woman arrested in Utah on Friday is suspected of stealing the identity of a deceased baby, then using the name to obtain a fake passport and Social Security number, and pandemic relief loans.
The woman, Ava Misseldine, reportedly took the identity of Brie Bourgeois, a baby who died in 1979 in Columbus, Ohio, as part of a years-long scheme, according to a court documents and a press release from the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio.
Misseldine, 49, was accused of stealing the name in 2003, a few years after she was released from prison for theft, forgery and escape, and using it to apply for an Ohio ID, Social Security card, and driver’s license. According to court documents, she assumed the name again in 2007 to apply for a student pilot license and US passport, which she used to apply for a job as a flight attendant.
The US attorney’s office claims that, over the next 13 years, Misseldine used both her real name and Brie Bourgeois in tandem, including most recently to obtain $1.5 million in fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loans under both identities in 2020.
Misseldine applied for the money for multiple bakeries and catering companies she operated in the Columbus area, including Sugar Inc. Cupcakes & Tea Salon and Koko Tea Salon & Bakery; the latter was featured by the Food Network on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” according to The Daily Beast.
She is accused of using the relief money to buy two homes, one in Utah for nearly $650,000 and another in Michigan for $327,500.
Misseldine reportedly also misrepresented herself under her given name, including previously telling Columbus media outlets that she is a former cancer researcher from Hawaii, and that her family ran a tea business — claims that a relative told The Daily Beast are false.
She is accused of using the fake identity to get into Ohio State University.
Paula Bourgeois, the mother of the real Brie Bourgeois, told The Daily Beast she had never heard of Misseldine and only learned of the identity theft of her late daughter for the first time on Friday when the outlet called her.
“Brie died so young, she had no Social Security number,” Bourgeois told The Daily Beast. “She was only 4 1/2 months old when she passed away … I’m really flabbergasted.”
Misseldine has been being charged with passport fraud, Social Security number fraud, aggravated identity theft, and fraud in connection with an emergency, according to the US attorney’s office. She remains in jail.
If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of two years.