Three businessmen at the center of what's been called Vermont's largest-ever white collar crime entered not guilty pleas Wednesday during their arraignments in federal court.
The fraud charges were filed Tuesday against former Jay Peak Resort owner Ariel Quiros, of Florida, and former president, William Stenger, of Newport. Also indicted were Quiros' adviser and chief oprerating officer of Jay Peak Resort, Wiliam Kelly, and Jong Weon Choi, a businessman in South Korea.
The allegations were for a range of financial crimes including embezzlement and wire fraud.
Investigators said the men defrauded foreign investors in a series of projects dating back to 2011 which included expansions of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Ski Resort.
One of the jobs was slated to be a bio-medical research facility in Newport that would manufacture artificial human organs.
Investigators say, however, the bio-medical center was a sham cooked up to collect nearly $100 million in investor money.
In court Wednesday, prosecutors say the men used the money on personal expenses and to cover payments from other construction jobs in what regulators called a "ponzi-like scheme."
Attorneys for some of the men denied the allegations.
"The full story has not been told been told by the government. We look forward to the truth coming out and we look forward to Mr. Quiros’s vindication," said Seth Levine, attorney for Quiros.
"He wanted to bring jobs, he wanted to bring economic vitality, and there is simply zero evidence that he benefited in any way from engaging in the allegations that the U.S. government has put forth," added Brooks McArthur, attorney for Stenger.
Choi, who was indicted but did not appear in court Wednesday, has been convicted of fraud in South Korea, according to prosecutors.