Ava Misseldine

Food Network ‘Cupcake Lady’ Used Dead ‘Baby Brie’ Identity to Get Loans, College Tuition & Over $1M Covid Relief

A woman whose bakery was once featured on the Food Network allegedly stole the identity of a deceased infant for nearly two decades and is now facing up to 30 years behind bars in connection with the ruse, WSYX-TV reports.On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio announced charges against 49-year-old Ava Misseldine, who is accused of using the baby’s identity to obtain a passport, a student’s pilot license, work as a flight attendant, admission into The Ohio State University and pandemic relief assistance.

Prosecutors have charged Misseldine with passport fraud, Social Security number fraud, aggravated identity theft and fraud in connection with an emergency, according to the Department of Justice.
The government alleges that Misseldine stole the identity of an infant who died in 1979, using the baby’s identity first in 2003 to obtain an Ohio ID under the name “Brie Bourgeois” and later a driver’s license and Social Security card.Misseldine began using the baby “Brie” identity three years after she was released from prison for forgery, theft and escape, according to the Daily Beast.
In 2007, Misseldine allegedly used the stolen identity to get a passport and a student pilot’s certificate. To get the passport, she claimed that she needed to travel internationally for her job as a flight attendant, where she was employed under the stolen identity.Misseldine would continue the con over the next 13 years, using both her real and stolen identities at different times, according to DOJ.

It was during this period when Misseldine owned and operated Koko Tea Salon & Bakery near Columbus, Ohio. The Food Network once featured the restaurant on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” for the bakery’s red velvet cupcakes, which were made with beet juice instead of food coloring, according to Columbus Monthly.But federal investigators began scrutinizing Misseldine last year when she attempted to renew her passport. Misseldine also received approximately $1.5 million in what the government says were fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loans under both identities. She submitted forged documents to support the loan applications and allegedly used the money to purchase a $647,000 home near Zion National Park in Utah and a $327,000 home in Michigan, WBNS-TV reports.In September 2021, Misseldine also applied for and received Utah driver’s licenses under both names, prosecutors allege.Misseldine faces a minimum of two years in prison but could be sentenced up to 30 years behind bars if convicted.

The mother of the real Brie Bourgeois, Paula Bourgeois, told the Daily Beast she was shocked that someone had been using her daughter’s identity for decades.“Brie died so young, she had no Social Security number,” Paula Bourgeois told the news outlet. “She was only four-and-a-half months old when she passed away . . . I’m really flabbergasted.”

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[Featured image: Police Handout]