A federal judge has ruled that Bend couple Kevin and Tami Sawyer, facing federal charges of swindling millions of dollars from real estate investors, can get their passports back and visit their property in Mexico -- but with big strings attached -- to the property itself.
"It's yet another one of the vindications of the truth that's coming out. It's just been long coming, and it's just one of many things that's going to be turning around in their favor," said a friend of the couple, Matthew Summers, said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, David Redwine said, "We victims have learned not to expect anything from the system."
Tami and Kevin Sawyer are scheduled to go to trial late this year on dozens of federal fraud, conspiracy and money laundering charges.
The Sawyers are accused of stealing more than $4 million from real estate investors. Until now, judges have denied the couple's plea for their passports to leave the country and check on their property in Mexico.
Their passports were taken away last fall, when they were found in contempt of court.
A judge said they were not cooperating, refusing to disclose information about their company, Starboard LLC. For months, the couple was turned down when they asked to have their passports back. Not the case any more.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Coffin gave the Sawyers what they wanted Tuesday. He granted approval for the couple to travel to Mexico to conduct business involving their property.
"The victims are trying to get more information from the U.S. attorney, Scott Bradford, as to what was the thinking was, and what was their knowledge of the true purpose of them going down there," said Redwine, a Bend doctor who won a $900,000 judgment against the couple, but has yet to see any of the money.
The Sawyers say they need to cross the border to repair hurricane and flood damage that happened to their property last fall.
But Redwine said that's not true.
"Clearly, both of them aren't needed for repairs," Redwine said. "So they're trying to transfer property to other people."
The property Redwine mentioned is the Sawyers' Mexican getaway in Cabo San Lucas. It's the same house that will be used as a "bond" to make sure the Sawyers return to the U.S. for their trial.
Some people think the former real estate broker and ex-Bend police captain will cross the border and never look back.
"That's just preposterous, especially when things are turning for them," said the couple's friend, Matt Summers. (Tami Sawyer told NewsChannel 21 she could not comment, on advice of her attorney, but got us in touch with Summers.)
Redwine, who's entangled in even more legal drama with Tami Sawyer, agrees: They'll come back.
"They're dramatic, particularly Tami is very dramatic," Redwine said. "But I don't think they would be that dramatic."