Business & Economy

Stenger ‘providing tremendous value’ on the job at resorts

Bill Stenger
Bill Stenger outside the Stateside Hotel at Jay Peak in September 2013. File photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger
Bill Stenger, Jay Peak’s former CEO and president, remains a presence at the ski resorts in northern Vermont where regulators say he played a role in a “Ponzi-like” scheme to raise money for several massive development projects.

Michael Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver for both Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, said last week that Stenger is working for him on a consulting basis for about 10 to 15 hours a week at $50 an hour.

Currently, Stenger is helping with a project to install a new T-bar lift at Burke Mountain.

“I want him here because he’s helping out and he’s doing it cheaper and it’s in the best interest of everybody because he knows more about it than anybody,” Goldberg said. “It’s my decision. I am making the decision that it is in the best interests of this receiver estate that he assist in connection with overseeing the lift.”

The receiver did say he was surprised to hear that Stenger signed a document related to the project’s Act 250 permit application on behalf of the resort. He is also listed as the contact person.

“Bill shouldn’t be, he has no authority, he shouldn’t sign any document,” Goldberg said. “I can tell you straight out Bill Stenger shouldn’t be signing any official documents.”

Goldberg said he would look to replace the document with his own signature.

In addition to the $50 hourly rate, Stenger is allowed the use of an older model Volvo belonging to Jay Peak. “That’s part of his compensation,” Goldberg said. “He’s providing tremendous value to me at the resort.”

A settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission bars Stenger from again participating in the federal EB-5 visa program for immigrant investors.

Regulators accuse Stenger and Ariel Quiros, the owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain resorts, of securities fraud in connection with a series of EB-5-funded projects. Those projects included major upgrades at Jay Peak and a new 116-room hotel and conference center at Burke.

Quiros and Stenger, regulators allege, misused $200 million of $350 million raised through the program, using a “Ponzi-like” scheme to take money raised for specific projects to pay for shortfalls in earlier ones.

Goldberg had previously described Quiros as the mastermind of the alleged investor fraud scheme, saying the Miami businessman had “duped” Stenger.

Stenger adamantly denied any culpability immediately after federal and state regulators brought civil charges against him in April 2016.

He reached a plea agreement with federal regulators in September to resolve the investor fraud allegations leveled at him by the SEC. The state case remains pending.

Violations alleged in the SEC complaint included diverting funds from one project to another, misstating revenue projections and failing to make required contributions to developments.

Under the agreement, Stenger cannot admit or deny allegations that he violated securities laws. He also agreed to cooperate with the SEC. He still faces the possibility of a civil monetary penalty based on his level of cooperation and ability to pay.

At the time the settlement was reached, Stenger issued a statement saying he would no longer be talking about the case to the press. “I want to focus my efforts fully to assist the Receiver and to help the investors,” he wrote in the statement.

Soon after, Goldberg posted a notice on the receivership website stating that Stenger would no longer work full time at the resort but would continue to provide assistance to the receiver on an “as-needed” basis.

Asked why Stenger wants to continue to work at the resorts, David Cleary, one of his attorneys, responded, “A) so that he has some employment, otherwise he wouldn’t, and b) he really believes in the area and those employees. He’ll do whatever he can to help them and make sure it’s a successful, now, pair of operations.”

Cleary added, “I know he puts in a ton of time that he’s not compensated.”

The attorney also said he has advised Stenger not to talk to the press.

“That’s consistent with what the SEC asked him to do,” Cleary said.

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Alan J. Keays

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  • Mike Burnham

    Having Stenger at Jay Peak is something like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank. Does he make the resorts deposits

    • Laurie Grimm

      totally disagree – he really is the best to know what to do. Are you familiar with federal cases involving hackers who have been caught and then turn around to actually help. It actually may be time for Mr. Goldberg to hire someone to learn more about the mountain and the industry.

      • Gary Dickinson

        Mr. Stenger should thank his lucky stars that he got a cushy part-time job and company car instead of a jail cell.

      • Steve Baker

        By his own depositions he’s either up to his ears in this or isn’t the smart savvy business man Mr Goldberg thinks he is….can’t be both.

  • Emh Hall

    I had heard he’s been there the whole time.

  • chris wilmot

    I am sure he is earning his $50 an hour to watch others install the t lift.

  • Steve Baker

    Interesting headline,
    “providing tremendous value”
    Yet we just read the headlines that since Stenger has been removed profits have quadrupled? What kind of tremendous value was he bringing to the business? Leisure Resorts has repeatedly reported how poorly the mountain was operated under by the past leadership.
    So all that Goldberg has done is A job title change, A little pay change, and a different car. And isn’t it odd that no one else is qualified to “help” with the installation of a T-bar? I didn’t think Lift Operations had been a strong suit in the past, judging strictly by the headlines.
    Then Mr. Goldberg says he was surprised that Stenger signed legal state permitting documents that he should not have signed? Hmm, how legal are those documents now?

    I would ask Mr. Goldberg what would you do to a real employee of yours at Akerman if they signed legal documents they have no authority to sign?

    Mr Goldberg like the word “duped”…. just who is being duped?

    • Nachman Avruch

      Profits quadrupled because the projects were completed and are now generating revenue. While it has seemed that Stenger failed to realize what was happening or prevent it, that doesn’t mean he ever intended to defraud anyone or do anything other than complete the projects he began in good faith.

      • Steve Baker

        The Hotels were built, the Waterslide, Ice rick and Golf Course have been there during the losing years.
        As Goldberg and Olsen said, it was a poorly ran top-down business. They re-organized with new leadership and had a great year (big snow helps). Payroll was spend where it was needed. They cut $1,000,000,000 in Travel and Promos for the EB 5 Fraud.

        “doesn’t mean he ever intended to defraud anyone” Read his depositions, He authorized wire transfers, He signed documents. He was the Pitch Man.

        • Jamie Carter

          Your business accumen could use some work. Hotel Jay was completed in 2012 along with the waterslide. And surprise surprise 4 years later it started to realize it’s potential profits. I’d say that is just about right. You don’t open the doors and be booked immediately, it takes several years to get rolling.

          Perhaps you should re-read the documents. He authorized wire transfers…. to Quiros… you know, his boss. The owner of the resort. He was the pitch man… you said it. He was the salesman. The best salesman believe their pitch.

    • Donna Boutin

      Wonder how long money would be missing, and Stenger bank account gets bigger..He knew what was going on and what he was doing..People need to stop making him out as the innocent guy because he isn’t..

  • Bill Magnus

    When Stenger arrived on the scene Jay Peak was about dead. For a skier he did exactly what a skier would want him to do. Fix the lifts, put in snowmaking, allow folks to ski the woods and was one of the first in the country to allow snow boarders free access to the mountain. Once that was done he started on condos (maybe simultaneously). He was always accessible and visible. I once saw him dump a trash can on the floor of the cafeteria to help find a set of contact lenses that a patron had thrown out with the other contents on their lunch tray. When have you ever seen a CEO on their hands and knees in the garbage. Bill was on a pedestal where everyone with a complaint wants to take a shot. No one is perfect but what he has done for this area since his arrival is nothing short of miraculous. When I was a youngster a family in my town, Colchester, helped through investment, start this area. I went there a few times but was not impressed and quite frankly was never impressed until he arrived. I’ve been skiing for 65 years, racing at Smuggs, Burlington and UVM. I’ve skied everywhere and find Jay competitive with most areas out there for its size. Kudos to Bill and company, and thank you for all the years of enjoyment I have had there.

  • Its said that criminals often return to the scene of the crime.