State drops Tami Sawyer case

Justice done by feds, says Oregon DOJ

staff report / The Bulletin /

Published Oct 30, 2013 at 05:00AM

The Oregon Attorney General’s Office moved Monday to dismiss its case against Tami Sawyer, a former Bend real estate broker, now a federal prisoner, over allegations she stole from a former client’s estate.

Prosecuting Sawyer further would add no more time to her sentence on federal convictions for fraud nor result in any real chance of restitution for the family of the late Thomas Middleton. A Middleton family member said Tuesday he was unhappy the state decided to drop its case. Sawyer cost his family its inheritance, said David Middleton, 43, of Redmond, youngest of Thomas Middleton’s three sons.

“They’re basically saying that because she’s in jail with the federal (convictions), she won’t get any more time,” Middleton said Tuesday. “She’ll get away with two more felonies.”

Sawyer, 50, and her husband, Kevin Sawyer, a former Bend police captain, were ordered by a federal judge in May to pay $5.82 million to victims they bilked out of millions.

Kevin Sawyer drew a 27-month federal prison term as well.

But the case against Tami Sawyer that involved the Thomas S. Middleton Trust was a state case, filed in the Oregon district court in Bend. A Deschutes County grand jury indicted Sawyer in July 2011 on one count each of criminal mistreatment and aggravated theft. She pleaded not guilty in June 2012.

Monday, senior assistant attorney general Bumjoon Park mailed a motion to the circuit court in Deschutes County asking the case be dismissed. The Attorney General’s Office had taken over the case due to a local conflict of interest. The court has yet to rule on the motion. “Mrs. Sawyer was convicted of several federal counts in connection with her activities, using a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors, and is serving a 9-year sentence in federal prison,” said state Justice Department spokesman Michael Kron. The Middleton family was among the victims in the federal case, he said. “We’re not likely to obtain any additional jail time or additional restitution for the victims. ... We wouldn’t be able to obtain any consecutive jail time. It’s not like it would be added on top of the federal time.”

The Attorney General’s Office also decided that further prosecuting Sawyer was not the best use of its resources, Kron said.

Tami Sawyer in January pleaded guilty to 21 criminal counts in U.S. District Court, Eugene, including wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. Kevin Sawyer pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to a financial institution. Authorities alleged they defrauded real estate investors of more than $7 million, then used the money to pay other investors and for personal expenses.

In the Middleton case, the state alleged Tami Sawyer, a successor trustee for Thomas Middleton’s trust, sold his home in July 2008 after his death and deposited the proceeds into an account for her own company, Starboard LLC, now defunct. She then transferred $90,000 of that to two of her other companies, according to state and court records. Calls to Sawyer’s attorney, Marc Blackman of Portland, were not returned.

David Middleton said the home sold for more than $200,000, money meant for his father’s heirs.