Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
It’s been a long time coming for Bill Stenger, who was president of Vt.’s Jay Peak Resort for over 30 years and saw it through decades of growth and transition. After pleading guilty in 2021 to providing false statements to federal investigators, Stenger appeared before a federal judge earlier this week and expressed contrition over his part in the crime. He will serve 18 months in a federal prison and pay $250,000 in fines.
“I let you down. I started out with the best of intentions,” Stenger said. “I got lost along the way. I feel constant shame and remorse. I should have known better.”
Although Stenger was not convicted of fraud like his boss and business partner, Ariel Quiros—who’s still awaiting sentencing but is expected to serve up to eight years in prison—his role in the crime basically allowed it to happen at all. Stenger was originally charged with nine counts of fraud, but the charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.
If you’re not familiar with the Jay Peak/EB-5 backstory, SKI reporter Joe Cutts went down the rabbit hole in this feature story that ran in our December 2021 print issue. It’s a long and sordid tale that we highly recommend reading, but the nugget is that Quiros and Stenger raised millions of dollars from foreign investors through the EB-5 program (see below) with promises to build all types of projects, then diverted the funds to their own use. At the end of the day, around 800 investors from 74 countries would invest in projects that supposedly created over 10,000 jobs. But it was a sham.
(The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by Congress to incentivize job growth in high-unemployment areas; through EB-5, foreigner investors who want U.S. citizenship can basically buy their way in.)
More backstory: Before It All Came Crashing Down
One of the mitigating factors in Stenger’s plea deal is that he would act as a consultant without pay to help bring the EB-5 projects at Jay to life, offering good faith advice to the court-ordered receiver to help make good on the promises he’d made.
As to what Stenger was actually charged with, it has nothing to do with Jay, but rather a proposed biomedical facility in downtown Newport, 20 miles from the resort. Stenger admitted to lying to foreign investors about how many jobs would be created and taking $80 million from them for a project that has yet to come to fruition.
After his release from Mass.’s Fort Devens prison, Stenger will serve another three years probation and is banned from ever working with the EB-5 program. Quiros is expected to be sentenced later this spring.
This story was first published by SKI.