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Kingdom Con defendants want trial moved; point to news coverage

 Ariel Quiros
Ariel Quiros (WCAX)
Published: Dec. 20, 2019 at 4:09 PM EST
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Defendants in a multimillion-dollar fraud case in Northern Vermont want a federal judge to change where their trial will be held. They claim news coverage of the EB-5 scandal has tainted the jury pool.

Our Calvin Cutler was in federal court Friday and has details.

The legal team for Ariel Quiros, one of the men accused, says news coverage of the EB-5 scandal has been biased from when state prosecutors indicted the defendants last summer.

Quiros is the former owner of Jay Peak ski resort. He and three others faced charges over a failed plan to build a biotech plant using foreign investors' money. They've pleaded not guilty.

Quiros' lawyer, Seth Levine, said in court Friday that Vermont media outlets-- including WCAX, VT Digger, Seven Days and others-- have engaged in a "yearslong process to vilify" his client. He says the EB-5 coverage has been unfair and paints the defendants as guilty before they've even had a trial.

Levine also claims that state prosecutors are purposefully turning the trial into a show for political gain.

But the state contends the vast majority of reporting on the scandal has been factual and the jury pool hasn't been tainted. They also say out of some 1,300 articles about the EB-5 program, less than 5% refer to the indictments involving Jay Peak, Burke and Newport.

Additionally, the defense is calling on the judge to look into high-profile figures such as Sen. Patrick Leahy and former Gov. Peter Shumlin because they helped pitch the EB-5 investment program to foreign investors.

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