Bill Stenger back home after release from prison

Bill Stenger, left, with attorney Brooks McArthur outside federal court in Burlington following Stenger's arraignment in May 2019. VermontBiz photo.

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Newport businessman Bill Stenger, the former president of Jay Peak resort, was released from prison today, according to a Facebook post by his son Andrew. The post from Wednesday morning reads: "Just under 7 years ago a long, complicated journey started for my father and our family. I’m extremely grateful to report the journey is finally over. Next stop- large fries at Mc’Ds drive through. Bringing the big man home today." The post shows father and son, but when the photo was taken was not clarified nor was the time of release.

Stenger began an 18-month federal prison sentence at Fort Devens, MA, on June 7.

Stenger confirmed to VermontBiz on Friday that he was back home.

WCAX also reported that Stenger has now returned to Vermont.

Stenger, 73, pleaded guilty in August 2021 to a felony charge of knowingly and willfully submitting a false document in January 2015 to the Vermont Regional Center (“VRC”) as part of his promotion of the Jay Peak Biomedical Research Park EB-5 investment project, also known as AnC Vermont project in Newport.

Stenger was sentenced April 14, 2022, to 18 months in federal prison for his part in a massive foreign investor fraud case. This is six years to the day that federal agents raided the offices at Burke Mountain and Jay Peak Resort.

Stenger also was ordered to make $250,000 in restitution to a group of 36 investors that got swindled by making investments into the EB-5 program that provides residential immigration cards in exchange for $500,000.

Stenger had helped develop several businesses in the Northeast Kingdom based in part on false claims made to government officials in conjunction with the immigration enhancement program.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford told Stenger, 73, he would be under federal supervision for 3 years once he is freed from prison.

Crawford agreed to allow Stenger to self-report to prison on June 7. The court recommended Stenger serve his time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Devens, MA, because it has a hospital facility. At the time, he was expected to be freed after 15 months. However, he ultimately served just over 10 months.

In response to Stenger's release, the US Attorney’s Office in Burlington sent this statement to VermontBiz: "We understand Mr. Stenger has been transferred to home confinement. However, a definite confirmation of his transfer to home confinement, any explanation of the timing, and what conditions are associated with home confinement, are questions better directed to the Bureau of Prisons than to the US Attorney’s Office.

"Our understanding is that Mr. Stenger’s transfer to home confinement at this time is based on a statute-based calculation of time in custody, over which the Office for the US Attorney for the District of Vermont has no influence. Previously, our office strenuously objected to the prospect of Mr. Stenger’s earlier, discretionary, transfer to home confinement. While we recognize that Mr. Stenger's age and lack of prior criminal record made him a reasonable candidate for home confinement, an earlier discretionary transfer to home confinement would have confirmed Mr. Stenger’s long-standing belief that he did no harm, even when he stole millions of dollars from his investors and left debts, unfulfilled promises, and unfinishable projects in his wake."

Stenger, meanwhile, in December 2022 from prison, signed an affidavit alleging that the state knew of the fraud, but allowed it to go forward because of the massive economic impact of the projects. Stenger in the affidavit said that he was not aware of the fraud perpetrated by his associates and if he were he would have alerted law enforcement. The civil suit to which Stenger's affidavit is attached is being brought against the state by some of the EB-5 immigrant investors.

Stenger stated: "By early 2015, state officials were aware of Quiros’ theft of investor funds. Nevertheless. they hid their knowledge of Quiros' misconduct from me, the investors and other regional center projects so that they could complete the Jay projects before the scheme became public. After discovering Quiros’ misconduct, the VRC, through the DFR. lifted ACCD’s hold on further investments in the AnCBio and Burke projects. and authorized me to solicit further investment in these projects. Had state officials told me about Quiros' theft of investor funds in 2015, I never would have continued to solicit further investment in these projects and would have sought help from legal authorities."

The Jay and Burke offices were raided by federal authorities on April 14, 2016.

Bill Stenger with Ariel Quiros, left, at the AnC Bio groundbreaking in Newport in May 2015. The medical facility was never built. VermontBiz photo.

The mastermind of the EB-fraud scheme in Vermont, former Miami businessman Ariel Quiros, and the former owner of Jay Peak has been sentenced to five years in prison. Quiros, 65, who subsequently had moved in Puerto Rico, reported to federal prison in Florida on July 26, 2022, to begin serving a five-year sentence.

Quiros pleaded guilty in August 2020 to three felony charges: conspiring with the 3 co-defendants in a multi-year wire fraud scheme to defraud immigrant investors seeking green cards through the EB-5 program; money laundering for using a loan collateralized with investor funds to pay a personal tax obligation; and concealing material facts to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversaw the EB-5 process.

William Kelly, a Quiros business partner, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was due to begin his term on June 21, but asked for a delay. While Crawford had recommended a federal prison in Miami, Kelly later learned he would be at a minimum security prison camp in Jesup, Georgia, about a 6-hour drive from his home.

Kelly, 73, of Fort Laudersale also noted that his daughter is due to return to college on Aug. 5 and he wanted to report after she departed for school. Kelly also said he has been working with a South Florida non-profit to open a sober house in Martin County, Fla. He hopes to get a job at the home after he is released from prison, his lawyer Robert Goldstein wrote.
He also noted Kelly's wife is seeking to secure a paying job with an insurance company.

The prosecution did not object and Crawford has now set the report date for Aug. 8.

Quiros and Kelly also have been directed by the court to make $8,338,600 in restitution.

Kelly also pleaded guilty in June 2021 to conspiring with 3 co-defendants in a multi-year wire fraud scheme to defraud immigrant investors seeking green cards through the EB-5 program the concealing material facts U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

When he pleaded guilty, Kelly admitted that he and his co-conspirators misled AnC Vermont investors about how investor funds would be used, about how many jobs would be created by the project, and about the timeline for this job creation.

According to court records and proceedings, the AnC Vermont project was designed to raise $110 million from 220 immigrant investors to construct and operate a biotechnology facility in Newport. EB-5 investors could qualify for permanent resident status (commonly known as a green card) by investing $500,000 in a commercial enterprise approved by USCIS and the Vermont Regional Center (VRC), which had the authority to approve and monitor EB-5 projects in Vermont.

In order to obtain a green card, each investor needed to demonstrate to USCIS that his or her investment had created, or would create within a few years, 10 jobs. From 2012 to 2016, approximately 169 investors invested about $85 million in the AnC Vermont project, in addition to paying about $8 million in “administrative fees.” Fundraising was never completed, and the AnC Vermont facility was never constructed.

This article includes previous reporting by Mike Donoghue.