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Former Real Estate Broker and Former Police Captain Sentenced in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2013

EUGENE, Ore. – Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken sentenced Tamara (Tami) Sawyer, 49, and Kevin Sawyer, 60, of Bend, Oregon, today for their roles in an investment fraud scheme that cost investors almost $6 million.  Defendant Tami Sawyer, a former real estate broker, was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison for a litany of charges, including conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements to financial institutions, and money laundering.  Defendant Kevin Sawyer, a former Bend Police Captain, was sentenced to 27 months for making false statements to financial institutions.  The defendants were also ordered to pay $5,820,307.55 in restitution to the victims of the fraud.  At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, both defendants were remanded to custody of the U.S. Marshal to begin serving their sentence with the Bureau of Prisons.  Upon release from their prison terms, both defendants are ordered to five years of supervised release.

            Defendants ran a fraudulent real estate investment scheme through their company Starboard LLC.  They enticed investors by falsely promising high rates of return, typically 12 percent, and secured the investments with promissory notes.  Rather than investing the money as promised, defendants used it to pay other investors, to fund their other companies and ventures, and to pay personal expenses, including cars, credit cards, and the construction of their $2 million vacation home in Mexico.  As a result of defendants’ fraud, investors and banks lost almost $6 million.  

“Lying, cheating, and stealing never pays in the end,” commented U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.  “Individuals like these defendants, who use positions of wealth, prominence, or trust to further their scheme, rob others of more than their hard-earned money and financial independence.  They also rob their victims of their ability to trust others, isolating them in society.  This behavior cannot and will not be tolerated as shown by today’s sentence.”

            “The Sawyers used their standing in the community to sell their investors on what was supposed to be a golden opportunity. However, it was an opportunity tarnished by greed,” said Greg Fowler, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “More than 30 victims have paid the price for that greed, but, today, they can be assured that the court system has delivered on a promise of justice.”

“The IRS is committed to identifying fraudsters who prey on others in order to satisfy their own greed and to working with our law-enforcement partners to shut them down. Hardworking people entrusted Tamara Sawyer with their savings and financial futures, and she violated that trust for her own financial gain,” said Steven J. Bellis, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in the Pacific Northwest. “This sentencing is a warning that being trusted with money from investors carries a duty to the highest standard of conduct, and that willfully ignoring that duty carries severe consequences.”

            This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott E. Bradford and Amy E. Potter.

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