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‘Fixer’ Kelly gets 18 months in prison in Vermont EB-5 investor fraud case

  • Bill Kelly arrives at his sentencing hearing for his role in the EB-5 fraud case in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger VTDigger — Glenn Russell

Published: 4/20/2022 11:20:27 PM
Modified: 4/20/2022 11:28:28 PM

BURLINGTON — William Kelly, termed by prosecutors the “consummate fixer” who worked at trying to “outwit” regulators, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in the largest fraud case in Vermont history.

Kelly, a close associate and key adviser to Ariel Quiros, Jay Peak’s former owner, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Geoffrey Crawford in federal court in Burlington.

Kelly, 73, who had been living in Florida and served as an “assistant in executing decisions,” later took the lead in developing what regulators have termed a “Ponzi-like” scheme, according to court filings in the case.

He was indicted along with Quiros, a Miami businessman, and Bill Stenger, Jay Peak’s former CEO and president, in May 2019 for his role in a failed biomedical research facility proposed for Newport in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

More than 160 foriegn investors seeking permanent U.S. residency, or green cards, in exchange for their investment each put at least $500,000 into the planned $110 million research center, known as AnC Bio Vermont.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in filings made public in April 2016, called that project “nearly a complete fraud.”

Investors were left with no way to meet the job-creating requirements needed to obtain green cards through the federal EB-5 visa program.

Kelly is the second of a trio of defendants to be sentenced in the case. Stenger, who had reached a plea deal with prosecutors that capped his possible prison term at five years, was sentenced last week by Crawford to 18 months in prison.

Quiros, who negotiated a plea deal that allows for prosecutors to ask for up to a little more than eight years in prison, is set for sentencing next week.

Kelly also reached a plea deal with prosecutors and agreed to plead guilty to two of the 10 counts brought against him in the indictment.

The two charges are conspiracy to commit wire fraud and concealment of material information.

As part of that plea deal, prosecutors could have asked for a sentence of up to three years for Kelly, while his attorneys could argue for any lesser prison term.

Prosecutors, in a sentencing document filed ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, did not request a specific amount of jail time, instead asking the judge to impose a “significant” sentence.

Kelly’s attorney, in his sentencing document submitted prior to Wednesday’s hearing, had been seeking a sentence of six months of incarceration followed by home detention.

Kelly was the second of the defendants to reach a plea with prosecutors in May 2021, agreeing to “cooperate completely, candidly, and truthfully” with investigators in the prosecution of the other two defendants.

That deal was preceded by an agreement with Quiros and followed by one with Stenger.

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