Fugitive Rosemary Sauter pays $2,600 lien

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ST. THOMAS - Rosemary Sauter, the St. Thomas Realtor who is accused of absconding with $3 million of clients' money in 2010, managed to pay off a federal tax lien of more than $2,600 while she is on the run.

The V.I. Justice Department issued an arrest warrant for Sauter in February 2010 and a federal warrant was issued in October the same year. Both warrants accused Sauter of embezzlement, grand larceny and obtaining money by false pretenses.

However, the Justice Department was not aware this week that Sauter had paid off her lien, according to Assistant Attorney General Denise George-Counts, who is handling the case for the V.I. Attorney General's Office.

"That does seem unusual," George-Counts said.

The V.I. Justice Department's warrant, and a federal warrant, still are outstanding, George-Counts said, noting that both are intended to bring Sauter back to the territory. Both local and federal authorities still are investigating her whereabouts.

"If she was picked up, they would return her here," said George-Counts, who would not disclose whether authorities had any leads.

To George-Counts's knowledge, though, some of Sauter's family still resides within the territory.

The Internal Revenue Service would not comment about who paid the lien or how it had been paid off.

"Federal law prevents me from being able to discuss tax returns or return information. All such information is protected from disclosure," said Julianne Breitbeil, a spokeswoman for the service.

Breitbeil also would not say whether it is common for people with warrants out for their arrest to pay off a tax lien.

Sauter, who once had been the president of the V.I. Territorial Board of Realtors and the St. Thomas Board of Realtors, had a criminal history of which her peers knew nothing.

Sauter was arrested in 1983 and accused of taking more than $25,000 from Lewis W. Douglas Development Co. in February and March of 1981, when she was 29 years old.

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 120 days in the San Francisco County Jail and five years' probation for felony grand theft.

Sauter was married at the time of her conviction and used the name Rosemary Chernowsky.

While still on probation, Sauter moved to St. Thomas, where she set up the accounting firm Sauter and Associates.

Sauter became a licensed V.I. real estate agent in 1996, lying about her felony conviction to do so.

The Real Estate License Applica­tion asks applicants whether they have been convicted of any crime other than a minor traffic violation. Sauter said she had no such convictions.

Thereafter, she became a successful Realtor and had the largest realty office on St. Thomas by early 2010, along with her accounting firm, and she also owned a restaurant-bar.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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