The fugitive real estate broker who bilked clients out of millions of dollars between 2008-2010 was sentenced in late October after nearly a decade, her plea deal getting her out of jail time but ordering more than $500,000 worth of restitution to victims.
In February 2010, Rosemary Sauter-Frett’s real estate firm on St. Thomas, RE/MAX Dream Properties in Lockhart Gardens, was closed and locked after Sauter-Frett disappeared and was being hunted down by local authorities. At that time, a V.I. Superior Court warrant was issued for her arrest after local real estate agents reported that checks worth tens of thousands of dollars drawn on the RE/MAX escrow account had bounced and clients reported that they were not able to close on their houses.
Sauter-Frett had gotten as far as Miami, but as authorities prepared to corner her before she boarded her next plane, Sauter-Frett gave them the slip once again. A federal warrant was subsequently issued for her arrest but Sauter-Frett was not found until February 2014, when she was picked up by FBI agents in San Diego and brought in.
When initially arrested, Sauter-Frett was facing 13 counts of embezzlement by fiduciary (with each count carrying a possible sentence of 10 years in prison) along with two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses and charges under the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. A conviction under CICO alone could have landed her in jail for 15 years with a fine of $500,000.
At the time, her bail was set at $1.25 million, supported by a series of complaints from clients who told investigators how the St. Thomas realtor had defrauded them, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The documents detailed 12 such cases and were sealed at the time the warrants were issued in 2010 but became available after Sauter-Frett was extradited back to St. Thomas on April 3, 2014.
She entered a no-contest plea in August of 2023 and agreed to pay restitution of $564,355 to the victims. Though prosecutors initially recommended she be sentenced to five years behind bars, the plea deal allowed for her to receive credit for time served, with the balance – everything outside of the eight months she served in pretrial detention – suspended unless she violates the conditions of her probation.
According to a Justice Department press release Wednesday announcing the conviction and judgment, Sauter-Frett has been on electronic monitoring “for several years,” which will continue until the restitution is paid in full. She’s also required to sell two properties she owns on St. Thomas to satisfy the payments and is not allowed to work or volunteer in any position involving “public trust or fiduciary responsibility.” She must also complete 75 hours of community service each year.
“Justice has finally been served. I commend our Department of Justice prosecution team and truly hope this sentencing provides some degree of closure to the victims of her actions. The White Collar Crime Division makes every effort to prosecute these defendants in a manner that is most beneficial to the victims, particularly when they are owed large sums of money. In this case, while incarceration would have been appropriate, the victims will be made whole once restitution is paid. If restitution is not made, probation may be revoked, and a five-year prison sentence may be imposed,” V.I. Attorney General Ariel Smith said in Wednesday’s release.