When the shit volcano erupts, everybody runs for cover

When you’ve got a big development scheme in your state that’s had the enthusiastic backing of The Great and Powerful, what’s the last thing you want to hear?

“Ponzi-like scheme”?

“Systematically looted”?

“… the gamut from false statements to deceptive financial transactions to outright theft”?

“… pilfering tens of millions of dollars in investor money”?

Yep, we’ve got ’em all, as Mount Quiros, the shit volcano, erupts and everybody runs for cover lest their expensive suits get ruined.

You know, it’s not very often that the term “clusterfuck” is an understatement, but here we are.

The big impressive series of Northeast Kingdom development projects organized by Bill Stenger and his allegedly rapacious partner Ariel Quiros is suddenly imploding amid a federal raid and a searing indictment containing some of the above language.

I’m just imagining a wall full of pictures featuring Stenger and Quiros with various smiling politicians, eager for a little rub off the project.

I’m also experiencing, I have to admit, a bit of “I told you so.” Back in March 2015, I wrote that the Stenger/Quiros endeavor “reeks eight ways from Sunday.” And I’m wondering, if little old outsider me could see the smoke rising and the flames flickering, why the bright boys and girls in state government couldn’t see it coming.

I’m wondering whether Pat Moulton of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development is experiencing the least bit of shame. ACCD basically punted on serious oversight of this and other EB-5 projects in favor of outright cheerleading. And its lead regulator, Brent Raymond, did such a bang-up job of keeping developers in line that he exited state service directly into a top-level job with one of the developers he’d just finished regulating. (Any comment, Mr. Raymond? No? Okay, then, back to work you go.)

As far as I can tell, nobody in state government ever took a serious look at the Stenger/Quiros plan until last year, when oversight was transferred from ACCD to the Department of Financial Regulation, a part of state government that doesn’t mix oversight with boosterism.

And oh, look at St. Patrick Leahy, suddenly issuing a clarion call for serious reform of the whole EB-5 structure. He was one of the brains behind EB-5, whose very foundation is an ethical quagmire — selling immigration papers to rich foreigners willing to invest money in underperforming development projects, and willing to forfeit many of the rights usually held by big-dollar investors.

Myself, I think the whole structure isn’t worth trying to save. I think it’s beyond salvation, by its very nature prone to abuse.

Shit’s gonna be raining down for quite a while. Settle in, hunker down, and try not to get any on you.

8 thoughts on “When the shit volcano erupts, everybody runs for cover

  1. Jeff Danziger

    Not for publication, but the people who get hurt by this are the ordinary Vermonters who bought cars and houses based on the projected jobs. All credit goes to Vermont Digger and Ann Galloway, and those of us who knew that this was gonna blow up.

    Anyway good piece John. I am trying to get the Herald and Argus to use your articles. So far the usual editorial somnolence.

    All best,

    Jeff Danziger

  2. Doug Hoffer

    If memory serves, Mr. Stenger was unable or unwilling to meet his obligations in a deal with Tony Pomerleau. To me, that signaled something was amiss and that was years ago.

  3. Robert Haskins

    I remember laughing at a comment on your blog last week from Macy Franklin referencing the “Stenger perp walk” banner pic coming soon to BFP. You two are visionaries.

  4. H. Brooke Paige

    The Leahy, Sanders, Shumlin and Welsh “Big Dollars for Green Cards Scam” finally comes to an explosive end with Federal Officials seizing records and real estate while the Vermont Political Crime Family wrings their hands pretending to have been “clueless” as to all of the “sweetwater” that flowed into their campaign coffers and the wallets of their lawyer friends who were well paid for “moving the paper” in this international Ponzi scheme.

    Remember all of the photo ops of Shumlin with Asian and Latino deep pockets lining up to pay half a mil to get their families out of their third world hell holes where they magically “earned” those big bucks to fund their “relocations” ?

    A fourth grader could have seen through this thinly veiled scheme,

    I have been critical of the EB-5 Pay for Play scam since 2012 when I became aware of Vermont Political Royalty swooping in for their “fair share.” We can only hope to see some of those same Vermonters experiencing a “Perp Walk” and a little stay at the Gray Bar Hotel !

  5. Walter Carpenter

    “All credit goes to Vermont Digger and Ann Galloway, and those of us who knew that this was gonna blow up.”

    Couldn’t be better said, so I’ll back it up:) Also thanks to the unheralded DFR for what they did to break this open and the others, like Doug, and those who I do not know who helped as well. This has been going on for a long time and, if my old memory is still functioning, it began back in the Douglas era. I also agree on the point about those people in the Kingdom who bought cars, houses on these promises…


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