Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sawyer Case: Is The Bulletin AWOL?

Since last Friday, both local TV news outlets have been carrying the story of Bend Police Capt. Kevin Sawyer being put on administrative leave while

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Since last Friday, both local TV news outlets have been carrying the story of Bend Police Capt. Kevin Sawyer being put on administrative leave while he and his wife, a well-known local realtor, are under investigation by the FBI. But, curiously, there's been nary a word about it yet in Bend's Only Daily Newspaper.

"I'm aware of an investigation or inquiry that is currently under way by the FBI, into the finances of a business or businesses that Captain Sawyer is associated with," Bend PD Chief Sandi Baxter told KOHD and KTVZ.

Kevin and Tami Sawyer own the Sawyer Five, a real estate agency; Genesis Futures LLC, a property management company, and Starboard LLC, a real estate investing company.

According to KOHD, "alleged victims are claiming possible investment fraud. ... There have been several civil cases filed against both Captain Sawyer and Tami, as well as her investment company Starboard LLC. One case filed last May against Starboard LLC lists a complaint of failure to make payments due under three different promissory notes. The plaintiff argues Starboard owes over $800,000.

"Another case filed last month against Captain Sawyer, Tami and Starboard involving money loaned to the Sawyers list complaints of money due and owing. The plaintiffs in that case want $95,000 in damages plus interest."

KOHD reported that a probate trust petition also has been filed against the Sawyers involving the late Thomas Middleton, who lived at the Sawyer home and changed his will shortly before he died last July and whose relatives are fighting over the estate.

KTVZ quoted an anonymous tenant living in one of the Genesis Futures properties as saying that she had received a notice of default because Genesis hadn't made payments on the property in more than six months, although the tenant has been steadily making rent payments for the past eight months.

"According to a court affidavit, Genesis Futures LLC has a negative worth of more than $300,000," KTVZ reported.

KTVZ updates the story today with Steven Wilson, principal broker for The Sawyer Five, denying the real estate agency is under investigation. "The issues with Kevin and Tami Sawyer are their personal issues, and they really don't have anything to do with the real estate operations of this real estate company," he said.

Of course, that doesn't mean one or both of the Sawyers' two other businesses are not under investigation.

KTVZ also uncovered the fact that in 2004 the Oregon Real Estate Agency received a complaint "alleging that [Tami] Sawyer failed to perform reasonable care and diligence in a transaction," according to Dean Owens, deputy commissioner of the agency.

"The state agency says that complaint quickly turned into several investigations of short sale transactions involving Sawyer," KTVZ says. "The outcome: Sawyer's real estate license was reissued and limited in 2006, for a year."

None of this has made the pages of The Bulletin. A search of the paper's on-line archives turned up no stories about Tami and/or Kevin Sawyer in the past several years. However, a "News of Record" item on Feb. 2 stated that Michael Hibbs and Ondi Hibbs had sued Tami and Kevin Sawyer and Starboard LLC for $95,677.88.

Let's hope the paper has turned its crack investigative reporters loose on this story and soon will bring us a complete, detailed account.

UPDATE: The Bulletin finally published a brief (less than 300-word) story about the case today on the front page of its local section. It contains little new information other than the facts that Genesis Futures owns and manages Casa de Querencia, a luxury vacation villa in the spendy Pedregal gated community in Cabo San Lucas, and that property tax records show the Sawyers own more than a dozen properties in Bend and Redmond. Those properties had a total market value as of January 2008 of somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million, according to the assessor's estimates.

Also, Tami's gushing description of herself has been removed from the Sawyer Five website. It used to say: "Tami Sawyer is not easily defined. Tami is energy. Tami is creativity. Tami is about combining energy, creativity, experience and gut instinct, along with friends, family and investors to reach and exceed financial goals and expectations. Big or small, every project Tami touches is handled with the utmost care and attention."

Now it says: "Oops! The page you are looking for is unavailable." "Oops" indeed.

The Eye has no way of knowing for sure, of course, but it looks as if the Sawyers -- like so many others -- might have gotten in over their heads during the real estate bubble.

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