The plot thickens in the Sawyer case: KTVZ and KOHD are reporting that the office of The Sawyer Five real estate firm was closed yesterday - and the principal broker has left to start his own agency.
"It's Friday the 13th, and The Sawyer Five's Bend office ... has its doors bolted, blinds down and is closed for business," wrote KTVZ's Victoria Adelus. "Employees are still inside the building, and appear to be hiding behind the walls and doors. They wouldn't answer for NewsChannel 21 - or a UPS delivery man."
The Sawyer Five is one of three businesses owned by Tami Sawyer and her husband, Bend Police Capt. Kevin Sawyer. Bend Police Chief Sandi Baxter announced last week that Sawyer has been put on paid administrative leave because of an FBI investigation of the Sawyers' activities.
The Sawyers also own Genesis Futures LLC, a property management company, and Starboard LLC, a real estate investing company. They also have a posh vacation rental villa, Casa de Querencia, in the exclusive Pedregal gated community in Cabo San Lucas.
That villa apparently is at the center of another of the Sawyers' legal troubles. According to KOHD, the relatives of the late Thomas Middleton, who died in July after naming Tami Sawyer the trustee of his estate, are battling Sawyer in court.
"According to a court affidavit in that case," KOHD reports, "a former employee of the Sawyer Five stated the Sawyers transferred money from the United States to accounts in Mexico. ... The affidavit claims the Sawyers sent more than a million dollars to build [Casa de Querencia]."
KOHD has previously reported that "alleged victims are claiming possible investment fraud. ... There have been several civil cases filed against both Captain Sawyer and Tami, as well as ... Starboard LLC.
Adelus said she talked to Steve Wilson, the former principal broker for The Sawyer Five, as he was moving his belongings out of the office Friday and he told her that he and other members of the Five were starting their own agency.
"I've been an independent contractor and had my own company for 25 years, and we've just decided to start a new company - fresh start," Wilson said. "I think we have an obligation to our clients, to keep them out of the fray and out of the mix. In order to keep our clients out of some personal issues of one of our previous agents, it's just best that we do it this way."
According to Wilson, three of the four Sawyer Five agents are joining him. But KTVZ said the Oregon Real Estate Agency was able to confirm that only one has left to join Wilson, and two had put their licenses on "inactive status."
"As for Tami Sawyer," KTVZ continued, "the agency says she's applied for and received a sole practitioner's license, and apparently is going her own separate way as well."
KOHD quoted Dean Owens, deputy commissioner of the state body, as saying that without another principal broker The Sawyer Five can't operate. "Once the principal broker has transferred and all the other licenses have become inactive, the registered business name has basically closed down," he said.
Meanwhile, The Bulletin still has published nothing about the case beyond a brief 300-word story on Wednesday. The Eye tips its hat to KTVZ and KOHD, who have done a hell of a lot better job on this story than the mighty Bulletin with its buckets of money and battalions of reporters.