Crime and Justice

Jay Peak worker accused of embezzling over $125,000 set to enter guilty plea

Jay Peak
Jay Peak Resort on Friday, June 7, 2019. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Editor’s note: Sara Ovitt pleaded guilty to the federal wire fraud charge during a video hearing Friday, August 14. Federal Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford set a sentencing date for Dec. 18.

A former employee of Jay Peak in northern Vermont is set to plead guilty to federal charges alleging she embezzled more than $125,000 from the ski resort while she worked there.

Sara Ovitt is scheduled to appear Friday for a federal court video hearing to enter the plea.

Ovitt is accused of embezzling the money while working at the resort between 2014 and May 2019, according to a document filed in court in support of the charge.

In addition to that document, a plea agreement has also been filed with the court stating Ovitt intends to plead guilty to a charge of fraud in connection with the thefts. 

Specifically, the charge stated Ovitt “caused wire communications to obtain money from her employer by false and fraudulent pretenses.”

According to court records, Ovitt directed payment of various Jay Peak refunds to her own accounts rather than the accounts of customers of the resort. Ovitt then falsified records to cover her tracks, the document stated. 

Ovitt obtained debit cards for Jay Peak expenses, created for resort customers, and used them without authorization for her personal matters, including child care, court documents stated. In that scheme, according to filings, Ovitt also falsified records to cover-up the ruse. 

In total, Ovitt is accused of embezzling more than $125,000. 

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The plea agreement doesn’t specify a sentence prosecutors will be seeking. 

Ovitt’s sentencing is not expected to take place Friday. Instead, a separate later hearing will take up that matter after a pre-sentence investigation report is prepared for federal Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford to consider.

Kraig LaPorte, spokesperson for the federal prosecutors’ office in Vermont, said Thursday afternoon that Ovitt’s case is not related to another, much larger, investor fraud case brought by federal prosecutors last year against Ariel Quiros, Jay Peak’s former owner, Bill Stenger, the resort’s former president, and two of their associates. 

In a bit of a coincidence, Quiros is set to enter guilty pleas to criminal charges against him in his case during a video hearing set for 10 a.m. Friday.

Ninety minutes later, at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Ovitt is set to appear for a video hearing before the same judge to enter her guilty plea to the charge against her.   

Robert Hemley, Ovitt’s attorney, declined comment Thursday afternoon on the case.

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Alan J. Keays

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