Southwest Idaho’s proposed nuclear power plant, which cleared a county land-use hurdle this month, may turn out to be a multi-million-dollar scam.

Five days after a rezoning approval was granted, the Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading on the development company’s stock pending the outcome of securities fraud allegations.

The company Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. announced today that its CEO and administrative vice president are taking voluntary leaves of absence. CEO Donald Gillispie, 67, said he is “saddened” but will make no further comment on accusations that he and his girlfriend (also company VP), Jennifer Ransom, 36, tricked investors into believing they were ready to build a $10 billion nuclear power plant in Payette County, just a dozen or so miles from the Oregon border.

In a complaint filed in court Thursday, U.S. Security and Exchange Commission told the company: You may have fooled investors out of millions, but you can’t build a nuclear reactor out of press releases.

At the time of the filing, the company had sent out 87 press releases promoting its stock and nuclear power plans. But the SEC noticed the company’s official financial filings didn’t report any income in the first nine months of the year – even as Gillispie publicly reported the company “could rival Exxon Mobil in profitability.”

The company “has no realistic possibility of building a multi-billion-dollar nuclear reactor,” the SEC complaint says. “AEHI has never had any revenue or product.”

Gillispie’s press releases were “a key part of his scheme to manipulate AEHI’s stock price and volume,” and they worked, according to the SEC. They pumped up the company stock price and paved the way for him and Ransom to “subsequently dump the stock through secret sales.”

The company had previously pitched investment ideas including fuel additives that would lower the cost of natural gas production by 40 percent and nuclear powered desalination plants that would bring clean water to the third world, according to the SEC.

“I am saddened that officials with the SEC did not follow up with me or my staff on these allegations prior to filing civil charges,” Gillispie said in yet another press release sent out today. “Had they done so and we were given the opportunity to confront these issues, I am certain we would not be in this position today.  My first priority is to this company and our stockholders.  So I believe it is critical that I take this step for the welfare of AEHI and for the company’s future in the nuclear power industry.”

The press release concludes: “The company fully intends to continue with the Payette Nuclear project and its other business ventures. AEHI will make no further public comment on this matter at this time.”