Crime and Justice

Quiros pleas delayed; expects to admit guilt in EB-5 rip-off next week

Ariel Quiros, Peter Shumlin, Ary Quiros, Bill Stenger
Gov. Peter Shumlin, Jay Peak CEO Bill Stenger, Ariel Quiros, the owner of Jay Peak, and his son Ary Quiros at a ribbon cutting. File photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

It will be another week before the accused chief architect of a scheme that defrauded foreign investors out of millions in a failed biomedical research facility project in Newport enters guilty pleas to criminal charges against him.

Ariel Quiros, 64, a Miami businessman and former owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts, had been set to enter those guilty pleas Friday morning during a video hearing.

However, at the start of the hearing federal Judge Geoffrey Crawford had several matters he wanted to resolve, including potential conflicts involving Quiros’ attorney, Neil Taylor of Florida.

Those conflicts included that a landlord for a former Quiros business had previously been represented by Taylor. Also, Taylor had past dealings with a possible witness in the Quiros case, Douglas Hulme. 

Crawford said during Friday’s hearing that he wanted to give Quiros a week to consider, given those potential conflicts, whether he wanted to move ahead with the plea agreement.

Taylor told the judge that his client has already consulted with another attorney and was willing to proceed with the plea agreement.

Though Taylor said he and Quiros agreed to delay the hearing for a week, the lawyer said “I don’t believe that his position would change in any manner between now and next week.”

Quiros, as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, would face up to eight years in prison. A sentencing hearing would not take place until sometime after next week’s change of plea proceeding. 

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Quiros was accused of being the mastermind of a “Ponzi-like” scheme with funds he raised through the EB-5 program, which allowed foreign investors to receive a green card in return for investments they made in a series of projects in the Northeast Kingdom.

Paperwork spelling out the agreement was filed Thursday in federal court in Burlington.

Specifically, Quiros is expected to admit to three of the 12 federal charges against him, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and concealing material information.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors say they will request a prison sentence of not more than 97 months, or a little over eight years. 

In exchange, Quiros has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as they continue to move forward in their criminal cases against Quiros associates also charged in the EB-investment scandal, including Bill Stenger, the former CEO and president of Jay Peak.

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Alan J. Keays

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