2nd man pleads guilty in Vermont ski resort fraud case

Associated Press
Published: 6/2/2021 9:55:53 PM
Modified: 6/2/2021 9:55:50 PM

RUTLAND — A second man indicted over a failed plan to build a biotechnology plant in northern Vermont using millions of dollars from foreign investors raised through a visa program changed his plea Wednesday, pleading guilty to two charges in a deal in which eight charges were dropped.

William Kelly was indicted last year on multiple fraud charges along with Miami businessman Ariel Quiros, the former owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts in northern Vermont, and former Jay Peak president William Stenger. Kelly was an adviser to Quiros.

The indictment accused the men of conspiring to devise a scheme between 2011 and 2016 to defraud investors in the AnC-Bio project in Newport. The EB-5 visa program encourages foreigners to invest in U.S. projects that create jobs in exchange for a chance to earn permanent U.S. residency.

According to court records and proceedings, the AnC-Bio project was designed to raise $110 million from 220 immigrant investors to construct and operate the biotechnology facility. The investors could qualify for permanent resident status by investing $500,000 in an approved commercial enterprise.

In order to obtain a green card, each investor needed to demonstrate that the investment would create 10 jobs. About 169 investors invested about $85 million in the project, in addition to paying $8 million in “administrative fees.”

In a remote hearing, 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.

Kelly agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of concealment of material information. He also has agreed to cooperate with the investigation. Eight others charges would be dropped.

Kelly faces a maximum of three years in prison.

Quiros, of Key Biscayne, Fla., pleaded guilty last August to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and the concealment of material information. Nine other charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. Under the plea agreement, Quiros will serve just over eight years in prison and will be sentenced after Kelly and Stenger are sentenced if convicted. Stenger has pleaded not guilty.

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