Stenger sentenced to 18 months for Kingdom Con

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 4:29 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A federal judge Thursday sentenced Bill Stenger, the former president of Jay Peak, to serve 18 months in prison and pay $250,000 in restitution for his role in the Kingdom Con fraud case.

Stenger pleaded guilty last August to providing false documents. Nine fraud charges were dropped. Federal prosecutors had requested a five-year sentence, the maximum under the plea deal.

Though Stenger was not convicted of fraud, Federal Judge Geoffrey Crawford said he was the public face of it. He said without Stenger -- a respected and reputable member of the Northeast Kingdom community -- the EB-5 projects wouldn’t have been possible.

After the six-hour sentencing hearing, The 73-year-old Stenger leaned back in his chair, with his fingers interlaced, awaiting Judge Geoffrey Crawford’s decision. He stood before the court with his three children, and in a shaky voice, apologized to all impacted by his deceptions.

“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.”

Stenger’s two defense attorneys argued that the evidence shows that unlike his business counterparts -- Ariel Quiros and William Kelly -- he didn’t steal money from investors. They also highlighted that in the three years after Stenger was fired from Jay Peak following his 2019 indictment, he helped run the business without pay, offering advice to the court-appointed receiver.

The court-appointed receiver testified that in the fallout, Stenger’s cooperation, compared to that of Quiros and Kelly, was “like night and day.”

But the prosecutors argued the ANC Bio facility fraud was the key to Stenger’s culpability. It was never built and prosecutors say Stenger used his reputation in the Northeast Kingdom to gain the trust of EB-5 foreign investors, who each gave half-a-million dollars each to development projects in exchange for fast-tracked green cards.

Stenger admits he lied to state officials about how many jobs ANC Bio would establish. Prosecutors say the truth would have turned off investors.

The U.S Attorney’s Office suggested Stenger is a salesman and he’s been crying crocodile tears to maintain a remorseful image as he’s forced to face his neighbors in Newport. They also allege he was motivated by greed and financial gain, given he might have retired with at least a hefty $7.5 million upon the sale of Jay Peak as one of its shareholders.

In addition to the prison sentence, Stenger will be on probation for three years when he gets out and will also have to pay $250,000 in restitution.

Since Stenger is suffering from significant health issues, he will be serving his prison sentence at the Fort Devens prison in Massachusetts, a federal facility for male inmates requiring specialized care. The sentence will begin June 7th.

Quiros and Kelly have also reached plea deals and are awaiting sentencing later this spring.

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