Bill Stenger, left, listens as his attorney Brooks McArthur takes reporters’ questions following his initial arraignment in May 2019. VBM photo.
by Mike Donoghue, Correspondent, Vermont Business Magazine William Stenger, the former president of Jay Peak resort, was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in federal prison for his part in a massive foreign investor fraud case.
Stenger also was ordered to make $250,000 in restitution to a group of 36 investors that got swindled by making investments into the EB-5 program that provides residential immigration cards in exchange for $500,000.
Stenger had helped develop several businesses in the Northeast Kingdom based in part on false claims made to government officials in conjunction with the immigration enhancement program.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford told Stenger, 73, he would be under federal supervision for 3 years once he is freed from prison.
Crawford agreed to allow Stenger to self-report to prison on June 7. The court will recommend Stenger serve his time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Devens, MA, because it has a hospital facility. With good time he could be freed after 15 months.
Brooks McArthur, one of Stenger’s defense lawyers, had argued Stenger should be sentenced to home confinement. He said he thought records show Stenger did not make any money off the fraud. McArthur said Stenger needed to take care of his wife of 50 years, Mary Jane, 73, of Newport.
Assistant US Attorney Paul J Van de Graaf countered Stenger needed to be held accountable and asked for a 5-year prison sentence. Van de Graaf said Stenger may not have enriched himself as much as other co-defendants, but he still lives in a $500,000 home in Newport and collected a $200,000 annual salary – high standards for the Northeast Kingdom and Newport area.
Van de Graaf also had wanted the full $1.6 million in restitution for the administrative fees the investors had paid originally. Crawford ruled Stenger’s portion was $250,000. Van de Graaf said many people got scammed by Stenger, including the New York Times that produced a 5-minute video that was used to market the fraudulent program.
“Home confinement is not warranted,” said Van de Graaf, a 35-year prosecutor.
Several mentions were made about the large stack of supportive letters for Stenger – about 120 page coming from all across Vermont, including current and former legislators, former chamber of commerce officials, educators and lawyers. Van de Graff said few, if any, fully understood the specifics of Stenger’s conduct.
The federal sentencing guidelines had recommended a prison sentence somewhere between about 11 and 14 years, but under the plea agreement the maximum sentence was capped at 5 years.
Stenger pleaded guilty in August 2021 to a felony charge of knowingly and …….