Former Eureka mayor's trial date set: Satori faces felony theft charge
EUREKA SPRINGS -- Former Mayor Beau Satori's jury trial was scheduled for May 19 in Eureka Springs at 8:30 a.m. during his last pretrial hearing on Thursday.
He was charged with theft of property, a class C felony, on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, after his former landlord told police that Satori stripped from his building some antique oak baseboards worth approximately $10,000.
The landlord, John Cross, evicted Satori from 81 Spring St. last fall for nonpayment of rent, he said; the building housed Satori's art and jewelry gallery, Satori Arts, where he'd been located since 1978.
It took until early February for Satori to clear the property. According to the prosecuting attorney's affidavit of probable cause, when Satori finally left, he stole architecturally significant baseboards from the building.
When Cross took possession of the building on Feb. 4, "it was discovered that the original ornate oak baseboards and trim had been removed and replaced with un-painted white pine boards," the prosecutor wrote in his statement of probable cause.
The baseboards and trim were made by W.O. Perkins and installed in the early 1900s, the report states, and were valued by an antiques expert consulted by the prosecutor to be worth at least $8,000.
Authorities interviewed Satori about the missing oak baseboards. "He stated in this interview that the original baseboards, trim and molding that were in the building are still present and are behind the white pine boards he installed," wrote Detective Thomas Achord in his report. "He stated he didn't leave the building with anything that he didn't install."
However, after removing the pine boards and further investigation, Achord wrote the following: "Photographs show there are no boards behind the pine boards, as Satori told me. It also dispels Satori's statement that all the oak boards were flush, given the dimensions measured from the floor to the sheetrock.
"These photographs along with statements from [the building's repairmen] saying that the pine boards were installed by Satori over the weekend he was to vacate 81 Spring St., disagree with Satori telling me he put the pine boards over the oak boards to make it look better while he was renting the store," Achord continued.
Jane Baker, former owner of the Eureka Springs March and November Antique Shows and a professional antique appraiser, was consulted about the missing baseboards and asked to estimate their value.
In her report, Baker said the oak baseboards that remained in a small storage closet were of the same age and style -- with, for example, unique bull's eye corners -- as an original golden oak wood cabinet that was in the building as well. That cabinet was made by W.O. Perkins around the early 1900s, she wrote, and the baseboards and cabinet surfaces "show age," something that is difficult if not impossible to reproduce.
Baker valued the missing baseboards, extensive trim and doors at at least $8,000 to $10,000, Achord's report states.
"This is a tragedy to everyone who cares about preservation and restoration in Eureka Springs," Cross told the Lovely County Citizen after the charges were filed.
Cross has owned the building for 47 years, which is the same length of time he has been a commercial landlord; he currently owns about three dozen commercial rental properties. During his time as a commercial landlord, he noted, he has issued only three evictions.
"I bent over backwards to work with him," Cross said.
When he was served with the paperwork for the felony charge, Satori was not arrested, confirmed Police Chief Earl Hyatt.
Lovely County Citizen Editor Kristal Kuykendall contributed to this report.