Former Jay Peak Owner Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges
Ariel Quiros was indicted on a litany of Federal charges last year related to the EB-5 scandal.
Friday, August 14, 2020, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger with Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Peter Shumlin
Former Jay Peak and Burke owner Ariel Quiros plead guilty charges related to the massive EB-5 scandal today.
According to VTDigger, "Quiros admitted to federal counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and concealing material information."
Quiros remains free, but could be sentenced to up to just over 8 years in prison. Former Jay Peak co-owner Bill Stenger is set to go to trial in the spring.
Quiros and Stenger were indicted on a litany of Federal charges including fraud and making false statements related to the AnC Bio Vermont component of the EB-5 scandal. The two had previously settled civil charges with the state and Federal government, in which they agreed to pay fines and surrender properties.
Quiros, Stenger, and former Jay Peak COO Bill Kelly pleaded not guilty last year. At the time, Quiros's former attorney alleged there was evidence showing the involvement of the "state’s congressional delegation, former employees and past governors" in the scandal. Quiros's former attorney withdrew from the case this spring, citing lack of payment, and was replaced by Neil Taylor.
Taylor told Judge Geoffrey Crawford that "We have been cooperating with the government and we anticipate disposing of his responsibility in this case by plea in the immediate future."
Stenger's court-appointed attorney Brooks McArthur was reportedly unaware of Quiros's change, but maintained that Stenger will "never plead to anything because he didn’t do anything wrong," according to VTDigger.
Bill Stenger and Senator Bernie Sanders
Stenger, a political science major at Syracuse University, started working at at Jay Peak in 1985 and in 2008 recruited Ariel Quiros to purchase the resort from Mont Saint Sauveur International. Following the acquisition, the group's EB-5 immigrant investor proposals expanded throughout the Northeast Kingdom with a planned price tag of $500 million. Meanwhile, Stenger and Quiros started a massive campaign of contributing to politicians, paying for their international junkets, and arranging press conferences and committee appearances to boost investor interest.
Senator Patrick Leahy and Bill Stenger
A Federal program created by Senator Ted Kennedy and championed by Senator Patrick Leahy, EB-5 allows immigrants to obtain a green card in exchange for investing $500,000 in a government endorsed business that creates ten jobs. In the case of the Jay Peak program, 20% to 25% of the investment was taken by developers and agents as fees.
The SEC took control of the properties on April 13, 2016, alleging that Quiros and Stenger were running a Ponzi scheme that was defrauding investors. The businesses were placed in receivership under Michael I. Goldberg, with Leisure Hotels and Resorts of Kansas City appointed to run the resorts.
A cornerstone of the SEC's lawsuit was the allegation that margin loans were taken out with EB-5 funds as collateral, a strategy that Quiros described in detail. Quiros and banker Joel Burstein both stated that Stenger participated in margin loan conversations.
The resorts remain under control of the government appointed receiver.