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Utah-based company wins auction to buy Jay Peak in Vermont
Headline Legal News | 2022/09/08 12:51
Utah-based Pacific Group Resorts, Inc., which owns five ski resorts, has won the auction to buy Jay Peak Resort, the Vermont ski area that was shaken by a massive fraud case involving its former owner and president.

The court-appointed receiver who has been overseeing Jay Peak for more than six years announced Thursday the results of Wednesday’s auction, with Pacific Group Resorts making the highest and best bid among the multiple bidders. The offer was not disclosed.

“We are pleased an experienced operating company like Pacific Group Resorts ended up with this great asset,” receiver Michael Goldberg said in a statement.

A federal court must approve the bid and a hearing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 16, according to Goldberg. The sale is expected to close before the upcoming ski season, Goldberg said.

Pacific Groups Resorts, which owns Ragged Mountain Resort in New Hampshire and Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Colorado, as well as properties in British Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, had originally offered to buy Jay Peak for $58 million. Goldberg wanted to be able to continue to market the resort, and if there were qualified bids to hold an auction “in order to assure the highest and best offer,” according a court filing last month.

Vern Greco, PGRI’s president and CEO, said the company started pursuing the acquisition over three years ago.

“Jay has a high quality team of dedicated employees who have weathered the uncertainty of the receivership for a long time,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing renewed stability to the property and its staff, we’re enthusiastic about the prospects for the resort, and we are delighted to be in Vermont which is an important market for any mountain resort operator.”

Former Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros, former president William Stenger and Quiros’ adviser William Kelly were sentenced this spring to federal prison for their roles in a failed plan to build a biotechnology plant using tens of millions of dollars in foreign investors’ money raised through a special visa program.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the state of Vermont also alleged in 2016 that Quiros and Stenger took part in a “massive eight-year fraudulent scheme” that involved misusing more than $200 million of about $400 million raised from foreign investors for various ski area developments through the same visa program.

They settled civil charges with the SEC, with Quiros surrendering more than $80 million in assets, including Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts.


Kenya’s Supreme Court upholds Ruto’s narrow presidential win
Headline Legal News | 2022/09/06 09:21
Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously rejected challenges to the official results of the presidential election and upheld Deputy President William Ruto’s narrow win in East Africa’s most stable democracy.

Ruto is expected to be sworn in on Sept. 13. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga had alleged irregularities in the otherwise peaceful Aug. 9 election that was marked by last-minute drama when the electoral commission split and traded accusations of misconduct.

The court found little or no evidence for the various allegations and called some “nothing more than hot air.” It also expressed puzzlement why the four dissenting commissioners participated until the final minutes in a vote-tallying process they criticized as opaque.

The commission “needs far-reaching reforms,” the court acknowledged, “but are we to nullify an election on the basis of a last-minute boardroom rupture?”

The Supreme Court shocked Kenyans in the previous election in 2017 by overturning the results of the presidential election, a first in Africa, and ordered a new vote after Odinga filed a challenge. He then boycotted that new election.

This time, Odinga was backed by former rival and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta in the latest example of shifting political alliances. Odinga’s team had challenged the technology used by the electoral commission and alleged that voting results had been tampered with, and it argued that the electoral commission chair had essentially acted alone in declaring the winner.

The election had been seen as the country’s most transparent, with results from tens of thousands of polling stations posted online within hours of the vote for Kenyans to follow the tally themselves. Such reforms were in part the result of Odinga’s previous election challenge.


Federal horserace authority rules again blocked in 2 states
Headline Legal News | 2022/08/11 11:00
A national horse racing authority has again been blocked by a federal court from enforcing some of its rules in the states of Louisiana and West Virginia.

A north Louisiana federal judge last month had blocked the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority from enforcing its rules in the two states.

That ruling was put on hold last week by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But a revised ruling this week from the New Orleans-based appeals court keeps some of the limits on enforcement in place.

Rules blocked under the latest court order deal with the authority’s access to racetrack records and facilities, the calculation of state fees paid to the authority, and definitions of which horses are covered by the regulations.

The appeals court on Wednesday set arguments in the case for Aug. 30.

State and racing officials in Louisiana and West Virginia had sued to prevent the rules from going into effect.



Construction to begin on roadway, but legal fight remains
Headline Legal News | 2022/06/20 12:43
Construction is scheduled to begin this week on a long-planned road project in the south end of Burlington, Mayor Miro Weinberger said.

The comments came after a federal judge lifted an order that blocked work on the first phase of what is known as the Champlain Parkway.

The first phase of construction will include tree removal and work to protect a brook running through the area.

Opponents say the project does not match current transportation needs and will harm residents in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

In the Friday order, U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford said beginning construction of the parkway would not cause irreparable harm to those who oppose the project and there will be time to address in court those underlying issues.

The Champlain Parkway is designed to be a two-lane road that will eventually connect Interstate 189 with downtown Burlington.

The $45 million, two-mile (three-kilometer) project is designed to improve traffic circulation, alleviate overburdened roadways, protect Lake Champlain through enhanced storm water management, and improve vehicular, bike, and pedestrian safety.


Kansas Supreme Court upholds Republican congressional map
Headline Legal News | 2022/05/18 12:34
Kansas’ highest court on Wednesday upheld a Republican redistricting law that makes it harder for the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation to win reelection in a big victory for the GOP.

The state Supreme Court declined for now to declare that overly partisan gerrymandering violates the Kansas Constitution. The ruling sets district boundaries less than a month before the state’s June 10 filing deadline for congressional candidates.

The court’s opinion was two paragraphs long, saying only that the voters and voting rights group challenging the map “have not prevailed on their claims” that the map violated the state constitution and that a full opinion would come later.

The brief decision was written by Justice Caleb Stegall, who is seen as the most conservative of the court’s seven justices, five of whom were appointed by Democratic governors. During arguments from attorneys on Monday, he questioned whether anyone could clearly define improper partisan gerrymandering.

Lawsuits over new congressional district lines have proliferated across the U.S., with Republicans looking to recapture a U.S. House majority in this year’s midterm elections. Congressional maps in at least 17 states have inspired lawsuits, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

In the past, congressional district lines have been reviewed by federal judges and not the state Supreme Court. The conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2019 that complaints about partisan gerrymandering are political issues and not for the federal courts to resolve.

The state’s Republican-appointed solicitor general argued in defending the GOP-drawn map that because the state constitution doesn’t specifically mention gerrymandering or congressional redistricting, the Kansas Supreme Court should reject the legal challenges. He and other state officials said that the justices had no guidance on how to define improper political gerrymandering.


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