Asheville Watchdog reporter Sally Kestin’s multi-part series Equity Erased was honored with a “Best Investigative Journalism” award Wednesday night by the national Institute for Nonprofit News.
The series, which is continuing, documents how Buncombe County homeowners lost years and sometimes generations of equity to Asheville real estate investor Robert Perry Tucker II and his associates.
As a result of Kestin’s investigations, Lisa K. Roberts, a Tucker associate, was arrested and charged with 41 felony fraud and forgery counts. Roberts’s Asheville attorney, Ile O. Adaramola, was also arrested and charged with six felony notary fraud charges. Their cases are pending.
The Watchdog series prompted investigations by the North Carolina Secretary of State and the North Carolina Attorney General. It also focused legislative attention on an obscure law in North Carolina that allows investors to force the sale of vulnerable properties and buy them at significantly below market value.