A former Australian beauty queen and socialite turned developer and Montecito Realtor was sentenced in her home country to 34 months in prison for evading $1.73 million in taxes. Simone Semmens, who appears to have gone by her married name, Simone Halstead, while working out of the Coldwell Banker offices on Coast Village Road, was found guilty on multiple counts of “dishonestly causing loss to the Commonwealth.”
According to the Melbourne daily newspaper The Age, Judge Scott Johns said Semmens, 58, had repeatedly ignored advice from accountants and bank staff that she owed taxes on the sales of 10 Australian properties between 2005 and 2011. “You have your dishonesty but also your stubbornness and intransigence to blame,” he said. Semmens also reneged on payments to contractors and lenders.
Semmens’s online profile with Coldwell Banker touts her honesty. “Simone Halstead is a savvy, Santa Barbara real-estate professional,” it reads. “With years of experience on both the selling and buying sides of many, multi-million dollar transactions she works with dedication and integrity.” Her recent listings included a $4 million home on Miramar Avenue and a $6.95 million on Picacho Lane. A Coldwell representative declined to comment on her sentencing, but said Semmens was stripped of her U.S. realtor’s license this Tuesday.