The feds have called for a five-year sentence for a former Vermont ski resort executive accused of failing to build a biotech factory using tens of millions of dollars of foreign investor money raised through to a special visa program.
William Stenger, 73, the former president of Jay Peak Ski Resort, is seeking a home confinement sentence when he is sentenced next week, according to a filing filed by his lawyers on Tuesday that says Stenger and his wife have major health problems. .
Stenger and Miami businessman Ariel Quiros, the former owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts, and two other men were charged in 2019 over the failed plan to build the AnC Bio plant in Newport, Vermont, using millions raised through the EB-5 visa program that encourages foreigners to invest in U.S. projects that create jobs in exchange for a chance to gain permanent residency in the United States.
Stenger pleaded guilty last August to providing false documents. The government dropped nine fraud charges.
Government lawyers say Stenger “came up with the idea for the AnC Vermont EB-5 project” and defended it “despite evidence that it was not legitimately characterized as an EB-5 project,” according to their recommendation of sentencing filed on Monday. They say Stenger lied to investors, the Vermont Regional Center, US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Securities and Exchange Commission about income and job prospects and was responsible for raising more than $80 million. dollars from investors “based on lies and deceit”.
They also accused Stenger of allowing cost overruns of tens of millions of dollars on two pre-Jay Peak EB-5 projects and allowing the misuse of investor funds to pay for those overruns.
“The criminal conduct committed by Stenger and his co-defendants has done more harm than any criminal case in the history of this district,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Van de Graaf and Nicole Cate.
Stenger’s attorneys say his primary motivation has always been to develop and improve the economy of the rural corner of northeastern Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom, and he believed the EB-5 program “presented an unprecedented opportunity to create good, well-paying jobs,” according to court documents. They said Stenger received “very little money” for his involvement in the EB-5 case, $20,000 compared to the millions Quiros and his adviser made.
“Not an hour goes by that Mr. Stenger does not think of his mistakes or regret his actions,” wrote Brooks McArthur and David Williams. “He feels he will never recover from the devastation and heartbreak he has caused to the investors of EB-5, the employees of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, the community of the Northeast Kingdom and his family.”
In 2016, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and the state of Vermont alleged that Quiros and Stenger participated in a “massive eight-year fraudulent scheme.” The civil allegations involved the misuse of more than $200 million of approximately $400 million raised from foreign investors for various ski area developments through the “Ponzi-style” EB-5 visa program.
Quiros and Stenger settled the civil charges with the SEC, with Quiros disposing of more than $80 million in assets, including the two stations. Quiros pleaded guilty to criminal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and concealment of material information in the failed factory plan and is awaiting sentencing.