Stenger Sentenced to 18 Months for His Role in EB-5 Fraud | Crime | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Stenger Sentenced to 18 Months for His Role in EB-5 Fraud


Published April 14, 2022 at 6:05 p.m.

William Stenger, left, and his attorney, Brooks McArthur, at the time of his guilty plea in August 2021 - DEREK BROUWER ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Derek Brouwer ©️ Seven Days
  • William Stenger, left, and his attorney, Brooks McArthur, at the time of his guilty plea in August 2021
Bill Stenger, the former Jay Peak president and Northeast Kingdom booster who promised to bring economic salvation to the region, was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 18 months in prison for his role in the largest financial fraud in Vermont history.

His sentencing followed a guilty plea in August to a felony charge of making false statements to Vermont regulators as they were scrutinizing Jay Peak and other business ventures through the federal foreign investment program known as EB-5.

Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford ordered Stenger to report to prison by June 7 and to pay $250,000 in restitution to 36 of the defrauded foreign investors.

Though Stenger was not the mastermind or main financial beneficiary of the sophisticated fraud scheme, "his role was critical," Crawford said before a crowded courtroom at the federal courthouse in Burlington.

"He was the public face of this fraud," Crawford said.
Stenger is the first man involved in the conspiracy to be sentenced for his crime. Ariel Quiros and Bill Kelly, both of Florida, have pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges and are scheduled to be sentenced later this month. A fourth partner, Alex Choi, remains at large.
Last year the U.S. Attorney's Office agreed to drop numerous other charges against Stenger in exchange for his guilty plea. The feds sought a five-year prison term, the maximum allowed under the plea agreement. Stenger's attorney, Brooks McArthur, asked the judge to impose no prison time.

The criminal charges against Stenger surrounded his promotion of a biomedical research facility in Newport known as AnC Bio.

Between 2012 and 2016, the men raised more than $80 million for AnC Bio from 160 immigrant investors, each of whom put up $500,000 as part of a federal program that granted green cards for investments in economically disadvantaged areas that create at least 10 jobs. AnC Bio purported to be a research facility for stem cell therapies, but was almost entirely fraudulent.

"That project, speaking very plainly, was a complete fiction," Crawford said.

Stenger leveraged his sterling business reputation in the Kingdom to garner public support for development proposals, prosecutors said. The fraudsters found a champion in then-governor Peter Shumlin, who touted the job-creating ventures even as state regulators uncovered serious red flags, reporting by has shown.

Just before Crawford issued his sentence, an emotional Stenger told the court that he viewed the Jay Peak scheme as a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to bring hundreds of jobs to the region.

"I got lost along the way," he said. "I fell into the trap that the ends justify the means, and I have no one to blame but myself."

"I feel constant shame and remorse," the 73-year-old added.

McArthur asked the judge to consider Stenger's age, health and intentions in seeking a lighter punishment. Unlike Quiros, Stenger did not siphon millions of investor dollars into personal accounts to fund a lavish lifestyle. Following the project's unraveling, Stenger went to work for the court-appointed receiver to help "repair the harm," McArthur said.

But assistant U.S. attorney Paul Van de Graaf countered that Stenger is a skilled salesman who took advantage of his Vermont connections for personal and financial gain. He invested none of his own money into the projects while taking a $200,000 salary and maintaining potentially lucrative ownership stakes in companies that he knew were entangled in fraud.

"It's time to make clear that he didn't care about the community with respect to AnC," Van de Graaf said.

Stenger, the prosecutor continued, "was the person who could have and should have stopped this."