Former Vermont Ski Resort Owner Sentenced to 5 Years in Jail for Fraud

Aunika Skogen | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Ariel Quiros after trial
Ariel Quiros Arriving at the EB-5 Trial; image: vtdigger.org

Ariel Quiros, the former owner of Vermont ski resorts Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resort, has been sentenced to serve five years in jail, ending Vermont’s longest ever fraud-related case. After nearly seven years, and multiple accounts of money laundering, Quiros agreed to a plea deal and will serve time. 

Quiros is set to begin his sentence on July 26th. After serving the next five years in jail, Quiros will spend the following three under close supervision. Both Quiros and his associate Stenger are also required to pay $8.3 million in restitution. 

In 2019, Quiros, William Stenger – the former president of Jay Peak, and William Kelly, Quiros’ trusted advisor and good friend, were all indicted over the failed construction of a biotechnology lab in Vermont. Though now recognized as a fictional project, the proposal depicted a multimillion-dollar biotechnology lab called AnC Bio Vermont to be built in Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, a small town of just over 4,000. The proposal included the economic benefits and additional jobs the project would bring the small rural town in need of a boom. 

Investment through the EB-5 program, a program that allows foreign investors to invest in exchange for a green card or residency, helped reach funds of $80 million for the project. Nearly 170 foreign investors invested $500,000 each towards the project. For the project to be completed an estimated $110 million would be needed. However, suspicion began to grow after the initial $80 million was invested and construction didn’t commence. 

AnC Bio Vermont Proposal
AnC Bio Vermont Proposal; image: vtdigger.org
Ariel Quiros
Ariel Quiros at AnC Bio Vermont Ribbon Cutting; image: vtdigger.org

In August of 2020, Quiros pleaded guilty to money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and concealing of material information. Quiros accepted the plea deal and Stenger and Kelly were sentenced to 18 months behind bars early in April. A fourth defendant and Quiros’ foreign business partner, Jung Weon Choi was named in the indictment as well, however, he remains at large. 

This isn’t the first time Quiros has been caught misusing invested funds and taking advantage of foreign investors. In 2016, when he was the owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resort, foreign investors through the same EB-5 program invested more than $450 million towards projects at the resorts. Quiros was charged in 2016 with misusing $200 million of the $450 million. It was also found that he had redirected $50 million to himself for personal use like purchasing luxury goods, paying for his condos, as well as his taxes. 

Quiros and Stenger settled with the SEC and turned over $80 million in assets, including several properties. His two ski resorts, Jay Peak and Burke Mountain went over to the federal receiver. An additional $417,000 in funds were frozen. Investors scammed by Quiros’ greed were then paid back after the sale of his properties and ski areas. 

As of now, the state of Vermont and the town of Northeast Kingdom are glad to see Quiros serve his time. However, the small town is still in need of developing the lot on Mainstreet, where the AnC plant would have been on.

Jay Peak Vermont
Jay Peak Resort is Owned by Ariel Quiros; image: northeastexplorer.com

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