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Attorney says Quiros ‘trying to do the right thing’ with expected guilty plea

  • FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, Jay Peak Resort co-owner Ariel Quiros listens during a news conference in Newport, Vt.  Fraud charges were filed Wednesday, May 22, 2019, against former Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros, of Florida, and former president, William Stenger, of Newport. The pair are accused in a multimillion-dollar fraud case on multiple federal charges over a failed plan to build a biotech facility using foreign investors' money. (Robin Smith/Caledonian-Record via AP, File)

Published: 7/12/2020 8:12:30 PM
Modified: 7/12/2020 8:12:28 PM

The attorney for Ariel Quiros says his client is ready for whatever prison sentence will come his way as a result of his decision to abruptly reverse course and admit to his role in the largest fraud case Vermont has ever seen.

“Mr. Quiros was a businessman; he saw an opportunity,” Neil Taylor said of his client.

“When you enter upon certain ventures,” the attorney added, “that’s what you’re ultimately responsible for, and that’s what Mr. Quiros is going to take on the chin.”

Quiros was indicted last year along with three of his business partners in a failed project to build a $110 million, state-of-the-art, biomedical research facility in the remote Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Taylor, speaking Friday evening after alerting the court earlier in the day that his client is cooperating with federal prosecutors and plans to plead guilty, provided a look into the backstory that led Quiros to go from aggressively contesting the charges to admitting guilt.

The attorney from Coral Gables, Fla., took over as Quiros’ lawyer last month, after previous counsel, Seth Levine of New York City, withdrew because of lack of payment for services by his client.

Within 30 minutes of representing Quiros, Taylor said, his client came to realize that he didn’t have legal footing to continue to challenge the more than dozen charges against him that collectively carry possible maximum penalties of well over 100 years in prison.

Those criminal counts include fraud and providing false statements to the government related to the AnC Bio Vermont development in Newport, Vt., that went belly-up, leaving more than 160 EB-5 immigrant investors with little to show for the more than $80 million they together put into the project.

“Mr. Quiros was led to believe that a government agency had responsibility for lack of supervision and that’s simply not the case,” Taylor said of his client’s sudden charge of heart. “If that were true that still wouldn’t excuse the conduct that Mr. Quiros turned a blind eye to.”

That government agency is the state-run Vermont EB-5 Regional Center, which federal authorities have since shuttered for failing to stop the fraud from occurring in the series of projects in the Northeast Kingdom headed by Quiros and his then-business partner and now-codefendant Bill Stenger.

Taylor said Quiros is cooperating with federal prosecutors despite not having a formal agreement in place. He did concede that his client was concerned that the switch in legal posture will mean time behind bars.

“But not so concerned that he needed a plea agreement before he started explaining what happened,” the attorney said.

Exactly how much time in prison Quiros will serve and what charges he will plead guilty to remain open questions with no agreement currently in place.

Taylor said at a minimum he expects his client will plead guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, and that will certainly come with time behind bars.

“It’s a pretty extensive case,” the attorney said, “and Mr. Quiros deeply regrets his involvement in it and he’s trying to do the right thing.”

If prosecutors want him to plead guilty to additional charges Taylor said his client is willing to do that, too.

“Either way,” the attorney said, “Mr. Quiros will not be contesting these charges.”

Taylor added that Quiros, a Miami businessman, has already met with prosecutors and will continue to do so as long as they want.

And, the attorney said, his client is feeling pretty good about the latest turn of events.

“Truthfully,” Taylor said, “he is quite relieved.”

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