Flight attendant-turned-baker is arrested for running two-decade fraud scheme
An Ohio cupcake saleswoman has been arrested after running a fraud by stealing a dead infant’s identity for the last two decades.
Ava Virginia Misseldine, 49, was arrested on Thursday in Utah, where she’d moved from Ohio in the last year, according to an affidavit.
She was charged with using the dead child’s name – Brie Bourgeois – to get a job, a pilot’s license, a passport, college admission and $1.5million in COVID-19 bailout cash.
During her time in Ohio, she’d been praised for running the Koko Tea Salon & Bakery and was even featured on the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
But Misseldine continually changed her story and background for how she became a success.
An Ohio cupcake saleswoman has been arrested after running a fraud by stealing a dead infant’s identity for the last two decades
She was charged with using the dead child’s name – Brie Bourgeois – to get a job, a pilot’s license, a passport, college admission and $1.5million in COVID-19 bailout cash
Misseldine has apparently gone by that name and lived a double life since at least 2003, three years after she was released from prison for theft, forgery and an escape attempt.
When speaking to the Columbus Dispatch in 2013, she said her family had been in the tea business for generations.
In 2014, however, she said she was a former cancer researcher who hailed from Hawaii.
Russell Misseldine, a relative of Ava’s, told The Daily Beast from his home in the Cleveland suburbs that Ava was not from Hawaii, nor was she involved in cancer research, nor were her family ever in the tea business.
Both a Brie Bourgeois and Ava Misseldine are on public record as having attended Ohio State University in Columbus.
Misseldine (pictured left) at one of the several baking establishments she ran in the Columbus area
During her time in Ohio, she’d been praised for running the Koko Tea Salon & Bakery and was even featured on the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate
The real Brie Bourgeois died in 1997 according to Ohio public records.
Under the phony name, she obtained a state ID, social security card and driver’s license, providing a copy of Bourgeois’ birth certificate and their parents’ real names.
She said she was homeschooled her entire life to make up for the fact that she was applying for a social at 31 years old, but now needed it to go to Ohio State.
The Bourgeois family was apparently unaware of this the entire time. Paula Bourgeois, whose husband and Brie’s father Jacques died in 2003, said she had no idea who Misseldine was.
‘Brie died so young, she had no Social Security number,’ Bourgeois said, expressing worry that she could somehow be held liable for any financial crimes committed in her child’s name. ‘She was only 4 1/2 months old when she passed away… I’m really flabbergasted.’ she told The Daily Beast.
Under the phony name, she obtained a state ID, social security card and driver’s license, providing a copy of Bourgeois’ birth certificate and their parents’ real names
She said she was homeschooled her entire life to make up for the fact that she was applying for a social at 31 years old, but now needed it to go to Ohio State
Misseldine’s first mistake dates back to 2006, when she received an Ohio driver’s license under her birth name in addition to the one she had as Brie Bourgeois.
The next year, Misseldine started working for a private charter service in Columbus as a flight attendant under the pseudonym, which is when she obtained the student pilot certificate.
In November of 2007, she applied for a passport as Bourgeois, she said so that she could go to Dubai, though this trip never took place.
When asked if she used any other names on the application, she left the answer blank but listed the name Bourgeois under an emergency contact.
Misseldine used her fake driver’s license and a letter from the company she was working for to get the passport, with an address that was the same as the one under her original name.
The affidavit filed in Southern District Court of Ohio against Ava Misseldine
However, Misseldine did not necessarily give Brie Bourgeois a clean record. She pleaded guilty to theft charges in Ohio in 2007 under the fake name.
In 2008, she registered for a retail business under that name and transferred ownership of a vehicle from her fake name to her real one.
In 2014, she was in court for a hearing on the application for the business when asked if she had used the name Brie Bourgeois.
She said that she had used the name for about two years from 2008 to 2010, saying that it was her birth name and she’d been adopted and had it changed to Ava Misseldine.
Misseldine said she used the name for two years until her birth family became upset with her about it.
She was finally undone by the pandemic, when she started applying for Paycheck Protection Program money using documents forged in both her own name and her fake name.
Having listed several of her former businesses on the application, she received $1.5million from the government.
She spent the money on homes in both Utah and Michigan and none of the cash went to saving any jobs.
Misseldine was finally caught in January 2021 when she tried to apply for a new passport as Brie Bourgeois.
Investigators noted that she listed her email address as [email protected], which connects to a link provided on Misseldine’s Twitter profile.
Having listed several of her former businesses on the application, Misseldine received $1.5million from the government
Misseldine was finally caught in January 2021 when she tried to apply for a new passport as Brie Bourgeois
‘Some of the information on this fraudulent passport application mirrors information that Misseldine provided in her 2015 passport application under her true identity,’ the filing said. ‘For example, the 2021 fraudulent application listed her occupation as ‘baker,’ her emergency contact phone number as [Misseldine’s], and her intended destination as Honduras, all of which matches information that Misseldine provided on her 2015 passport application under her true identity.’
Because of this, the application was flagged as potentially fraudulent and led to Misseldine being charged with passport fraud, Social Security number fraud, aggravated identity theft, and fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.
Misseldine faces 30 years in prison if convicted on all charges.