Tami and Kevin Sawyer met with creditors behind closed doors Friday, then made their first public statement as the embattled Bend property managers vowed to do all they can to repay those owed, despite the cloud of an FBI investigation and numerous civil lawsuits.
Realtor Tami Sawyer and husband Kevin, a now-retired Bend police captain, faced reporters for five minutes at the downtown Phoenix Inn, though only Tami spoke at the news conference, which was firmly limited to reporters by their public relations person, Lori Gleichman.
NewsChannel 21 and other news outlets have spent several months following the many aspects of allegations that the Sawyers mishandled and misspent thousands of dollars of investors' money, leaving some owners shocked as they faced default notices on their property.
The couple met with creditors privately at the hotel for more than an hour as part of their effort to work out a plan to pay back the hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding debts.
"At this time, we don't know the exact details" of such a plan, Tami Sawyer told reporters afterward in her first public comments, away from a courtroom witness stand, since the troubles came to light.
"Our first endeavor was to try to make sure that they, the lenders would be amenable to doing something like that, so that we can then set about putting forth a plan, which we're hoping to have a great out turn and have their confidence, and" - she paused briefly, looking to her husband at her side - "put that plan together as quickly as possible."
Sawyer said while the specific details have yet to be worked out, they do plan to pay back creditors over the next three years.
"It seemed fairly positive," she said of the meeting. "There were lots of questions. We did our best to answer everybody's questions and ... I think it was a pretty positive meeting, overall."
Most of the people at the meeting didn't wish to go on camera, but one creditor did.
"Right from the beginning, we all agreed that it's confidentiality, as far as the details that were shared throughout the meeting," said Mike Tennant. "But I would say that it was very productive."
"I think they presented a very good workable, possible plan," Tennant said.
The media was asked to just focus on the meeting, but Tami Sawyer did open up about what the ongoing process has been like for her and her husband.
"It's taken up, pretty much, every day," she said. "We have a lot of renters that have moved out. We've had a lot of property management issues that we've worked on."
"But overall, I think, Kevin and I, we know we're the same today we were a year ago, we're the same today as we were six months ago. So for us, we're just standing strong in what we know, keeping our focus ahead of what we've got to do, and we're going to do the right thing. We're going to stand on our integrity and we're going do the right thing."
As for the pending lawsuits, Sawyer said, "It's our intention right now to just settle all lawsuits and not to dispute any of them. Because again, it doesn't do us any good to fight them, to dispute them. The money is owed and we fully intend to pay it back."
Reportedly, representatives of the IRS and FBI questioned creditors after the meeting about their investments, and the Sawyers' plan to pay them back.