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2nd man sentenced in Vermont visa fraud case

April 20, 2022 GMT

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The second of four men accused in a failed plan to build a biotechnology plant in Vermont using tens of millions of dollars in foreign investors’ money raised through a special visa program was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to 18 months in prison.

William Kelly, 73, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $.8.3 million in restitution.

He pleaded guilty last June to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of concealment of material information. As part of the plea deal, eight other charges were dropped and he agreed to cooperative with the government.

Kelly was indicted in 2019 on multiple fraud charges along with Miami businessman Ariel Quiros, the former owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts in northern Vermont, and former Jay Peak president William Stenger. Kelly was an advisor to Quiros.

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The indictment accused the men of conspiring to devise a scheme between 2011 and 2016 to defraud foreign investors in the AnC-Bio project in Newport. The EB-5 visa program encourages foreigners to invest in U.S. projects that create jobs in exchange for a chance to earn permanent U.S. residency.

Prosecutors said the project was designed to raise $110 million from 220 immigrant investors to build and operate a biotechnology facility in Newport, according to court records and proceedings. Approximately 169 investors put in about $85 million between 2012 and 2016, as well as paid about $8 million in administrative fees but the fundraising was never completed and project was never built, prosecutors said.

Stenger was sentenced last week to 18 months in prison, after pleading guilty last August to providing false documents. Quiros faces sentencing later this month. A fourth man, Jong Weon (Alex) Choi, a businessman in South Korea, remains at large, according to the federal court.