Sauter to appear in federal court today


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ST. THOMAS - Virgin Islands' real estate agent Rosemary Sauter today will step into federal court for a second time in San Diego, possibly her last appearance in a court outside the territory.

Sauter, who fled St. Thomas after accusations of embezzlement began to surface around her, was arrested two weeks ago by San Diego County sheriff's deputies and an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Court documents posted to PACER, an online court document system, bring to light some of the details surrounding Sauter's flight from the island, though almost none about her life thereafter.

Sauter, 62, is referred to in court documents by her full post-marriage name, Rosemary Sauter-Frett, though it still is not known whether she used her name while living in the quaint town of Fallbrook, Calif., located just outside of the Golden State's southern city of San Diego.

Arrested initially for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, according to the U.S. District Court's arrest record, Sauter faces numerous other charges from the V.I. Attorney General's Office.

It is unclear whether the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Virgin Islands also will press charges.

Sauter is facing charges currently of obtaining money by false pretense; drawing and delivering worthless checks; and embezzlement, according to the affidavit. Other documents surrounding Sauter's case are under seal.

Sauter is accused of absconding with $122,900 from "customers of her company who believed that their funds were being held securely in the Remax Dreams Properties escrow account," wrote Warrington Tyson Jr., a special federal officer with the FBI's Join Terrorist Task Force, in the affidavit.

Tyson further states that prior to the arrest warrant released for Sauter in February 2010, Sauter purchased a one-way ticket from St. Thomas to Miami, Fla., with a connecting stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On Feb. 2, 2010, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer spotted Sauter at King Airport with four large bags of luggage. A customs declaration form dated the same date turned in by Sauter listed her address as living in Estate Bakkeroe on St. Thomas.

Review of her personal bank checking account also showed that Sauter made a payment to Comfort Inns and Suites, a hotel chain that does not have a location in the territory, on Feb. 5, 2010. The affidavit did not say whether the FBI knew the location of the Comfort Inns and Suites.

At the time, the FBI contacted Sauter's family members and friends, though none knew where she had fled.

The affidavit does not disclose how the FBI knew of Sauter's whereabouts when they arrested her Jan. 30 at the Sunset Pointe apartments in Fallbrook.

Sauter is expected to appear before Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford at 9:30 a.m. PST. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Wasicek will be prosecuting the case for the time being, and federal public defender Hootan Baigmohammadi is listed as Sauter's representation.

It is unclear what the outcome of Sauter's appearance in court will be today, as local authorities expect that she will be extradited at some point.

Online court records state that a financial affidavit is due in court today, though the records provide no further detail.

No motion to extradite had yet been filed in the online court record system as of press time Tuesday.

Before disappearing, Sauter was a successful real estate agent and had the largest realty office on St. Thomas by early 2010, about 14 years after she illegally acquired her real estate license in the territory. She operated a real estate office, an accounting firm and a restaurant-bar.

She once also had been the president of the V.I. Territorial Board of Realtors and the St. Thomas Board of Realtors.

"I pride myself in being honest, trustworthy and reliable. I have a knack for understanding my customers and clients' needs. I am friendly and have a reputation for getting the job done," Sauter wrote on her profile, which still can be found on LinkedIn, a social networking website.

After Sauter fled the territory in February 2010, the V.I. Attorney General's Office issued a warrant for her arrest, though it was sealed. The U.S. Attorney's Office followed suit eight months later, issuing a federal warrant for Sauter's arrest in October 2010.

Authorities and locals alike have estimated that she could have taken more than $3 million of her clients' and fellow investors' money.

Though Sauter initially was booked into the Vista Detention Facility in Vista, Calif., following her arrest in January, she later was moved to the Metropolitan Corrections Center in San Diego, according to FBI spokesman Darrell Foxworth.

Sauter is expected to remain there until she is prepared for extradition.

No bail has been set, nor is it expected to be set.

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

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