Ron Leavitt was driving from a master gardener class to his Naples, Fla., home three months ago when he received a surprising call from his wife.
"She said, 'The FBI is here to talk to you about Burlington College,'" he recalled. "'When are you going to be home?'"
The semiretired orthopedic surgeon had moved from Vermont to Florida five years earlier, but his association with the shuttered liberal arts college — and the wife of a United States senator who served as its president — had followed him to the Sunshine State. When he returned home to his gated community later that afternoon, Leavitt found two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents waiting for him with plenty of questions about a $30,000 donation he had made to the school.
"It was a little strange," he said of the unexpected visit.
Leavitt is one of five people formerly associated with Burlington College who have confirmed to Seven Days that they were contacted, interviewed and, in some cases, subpoenaed by federal authorities over the past 15 months. While much about the inquiry remains shrouded in mystery, documents and interviews suggest that it is a serious criminal investigation focused on a $6.5 million bank loan application the college made in 2010 to pay for a $10 million lakeside campus.