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Posts published by “Sally Kestin”

Fox News: Asheville Is Crime-Ridden, Dangerous

Report Misstates Stats, Blames "Leftist" Agenda

Fox News last week told a national audience that Asheville has seen a 31 percent increase in violent crime in the last five years. “Asheville once touted as a top-10 tourist destination back in 2017, but with crime raging, the city now ranks, get this, in the top 10 percent of most violent cities in America,” anchor Todd Piro said. “That’s tough to believe.”

Yes, it is.

The 31 percent increase is not current. It refers to a period ending in 2020, when crime had increased nationwide. Violent crime — murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — went down in Asheville in 2021.

And the reference to Asheville being among the most violent cities came from an analysis, also based on 2020 data, that combined all violent crimes — a potentially misleading way to view the statistics,

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TDA Expenses for US Open: $70k for Travel, Food, Coozies

Guests wined and dined in suites

The tab is in: On top of the $1.3 million Asheville paid to sponsor the US Open tennis tournament, the public tourism board spent more than $70,000 in expenses that included catering and travel for their staff, board members and guests, nearly $25,000 on Asheville-branded beer coozies, and more than $1,000 on floral arrangements.

As Asheville Watchdog reported last week, the Tourism Development Authority’s $1.3 million sponsorship agreement included tickets to a luxury suite for two nights and passes to the President’s Suite. The Grand Slam tennis event in New York ended last weekend.

In a news release Monday, Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau listed the names of the suite guests and a summary of expenses paid for with tax money.

On Sept. 7, Asheville Night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, 17 guests watched the men’s and women’s quarterfinals in Asheville’s luxury suite,

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Luxury Suites, Perks for Local V.I.P.s in $1.3 Million US Open Deal

Tennis-see? Asheville is "Official Sponsor of the US Open"

The US Open winds to a close this weekend in New York, and among those attending in the luxury suites at the tennis Grand Slam event will be more than two dozen Buncombe County VIPS – courtesy of the public tourism board and $1.3 million in local tax money.

The Tourist Development Authority announced last month that it had paid $1.3 million to become an official sponsor of the US Open and touted benefits, including signs promoting Asheville, television spots, and an Asheville Night on Sept. 7.

Not mentioned were some of the other benefits the TDA received, according to the sponsorship agreement:

–  A luxury suite in Arthur Ashe Stadium for two sessions to be selected by the TDA. “With the suite will be included 20 suite admission tickets, two host passes and three VIP parking passes.” The TDA also agreed to purchase a minimum of 

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Was It Just a Fireworks Prank? Or Was a Possible Tragedy Averted?

Courts weigh public safety threat of July 4 explosives suspects

Fugate posted a photo of himself in his blue coyote "fursona," holding an M4 carbine // credit: furaffinity.net

By SALLY KESTIN AND SCOTT CARROLL, Asheville Watchdog 

One dressed in Nazi uniforms, posed with an array of firearms and knives, and posted videos of himself shooting automatic rifles. The other threatened to spread his COVID-19 infection throughout a courthouse in Washington state if court personnel did not drop a speeding ticket.

Chioke Fugate, 23, and Duncan Small, 30, both of Asheville, are charged with detonating a homemade explosive similar to a pipe bomb in Pack Square on July 4. Witnesses said Small threw the explosive, described in court as a “quarter stick” or M device, at the remnants of the Vance Monument, and Fugate “threw fireworks and other incendiary devices at people,” court records say.

No one was injured, but police said the explosion,

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Asheville Lawyer Arrested, Charged With Felonies in Real Estate Deals

Her client, Lisa Roberts, also arrested on 32 forgery charges

Ilesanmi “Ile” O. Adaramola // Photo credit: Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office

An Asheville attorney was arrested this week on six felony charges related to Buncombe County real estate deals, and her client, a woman already charged with fraud, was arrested on 32 additional counts of felony forgery.

Lisa K. Roberts was charged with forging her uncle’s signature on deeds, mortgages, and checks, and the attorney, Ilesanmi “Ile” O. Adaramola, was charged with notarizing the signature on legal documents.

Arrest warrants say Adaramola, 37, “while acting as a duly commissioned North Carolina notary public did take an acknowledgment the notary knew was false of [sic] fraudulent.” Each of the six counts against her is a Class I felony, the least serious, punishable by up to 24 months in prison. But barring any criminal history, under state sentencing guidelines she would likely receive probation.

Roberts,

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Buncombe Lawyers, Others Accused of Fraud

Court complaint details scheme to take ex-cop’s home equity

Attorney Tikkun Gottschalk argues the scheme was a "fraud on the court" at an April hearing before Buncombe Superior Court Judge Alan Thornburg. Credit: Pat Barcas for Asheville Watchdog

A guardian for a former law enforcement officer has filed a complaint in court accusing three Buncombe attorneys and two others of fraud in a scheme to illegally sell his house and keep more than $40,000 in proceeds that belonged to him.

The complaint, filed on behalf of David Shroat, is among the first attempts to recoup money for a homeowner in real estate deals exposed by Asheville Watchdog in its investigative series, Equity Erased.

Shroat, a former Asheville police officer and Buncombe sheriff’s detective, was showing signs of dementia, according to his lawyer, when in 2018, his Arden house was sold through a series of property transfers and court actions. Shroat owned more than $40,000 in equity but came away with nothing.

David Shroat // Photo courtesy of Kelly Southerland

The complaint names as “fraud defendants” the following people:

— Lisa Roberts,

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Hunting for dead dad’s missing money, grieving son finds pain, anger … and a clue

Bank trail leads to Asheville woman already facing fraud charges

George Jones and his house in Asheville

George Jones died on Christmas Day 2019, rear-ended while pulled over on the shoulder of Interstate 26 in Woodfin.

Jones, 85, wore pants over his pajama bottoms, one shoe, two shirts, and a hat. His deteriorating mental state was the only explanation his son, Drake Jones, could fathom for why his father wound up on the highway’s edge at nearly 2 a.m.

But sorting through his father’s affairs, Jones came away with more unsettling questions: How was his dad able to apply for and receive a reverse mortgage on his Asheville home when, Drake Jones said, he barely recognized his own son?

What happened to the proceeds of the loan, two payments totaling $74,617, that were wired into his father’s bank account and immediately transferred out? And why was the address on his dad’s bank account changed to a postal box and back to his house after each transfer?

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Search Warrant Ties Real Estate Investor to Criminal Probe

Computers, phones seized from Asheville woman's home

State and Buncombe County agents raided Lisa Roberts's house in Biltmore Park

The Asheville woman arrested earlier this month on notary fraud charges was engaged in “a pattern of illegal behavior,” according to a search warrant, and investigators obtained permission to search her home for links to real estate investor Robert Perry Tucker II.

The warrant authorized the seizure of “any documentation or correspondence” at Lisa K. Roberts’s Biltmore Park home involving Home Advocates and Limitless Outreach (HALO), Roberts’s nonprofit; Certified Funding Corporation and Asheville Holdings Company, two of Tucker’s companies; “or associated co-conspirators.”

The purpose, according to the warrant application, was to show Roberts, who is referred to by her married name, Roberts-Allen, “as a current and or past agent or someone who conducts real-estate transactions with and or for” Asheville Holdings or Certified Funding.

On the day the search warrant was served,

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Asheville Investor Settles 2 Cases

‘I was on the path to losing my house,’ homeowner says

Kathy Waites could have lost her house to investor Robert Tucker. Photo credit: Kathy Waites

Kathy Waites will get to keep the West Asheville home that’s been in her family for three generations, after reaching a legal settlement with an Asheville real estate investor who acquired a half-interest in the house for just $3,000.

The investor, Robert Perry Tucker II, also agreed to drop his appeal of a judge’s ruling awarding a son the proceeds from the sale of his deceased father’s house in Asheville. Tucker had convinced the son, Robert Buckner Jr., to sell his company the property for just $10,000, even though it was already under contract for $148,000.

Tucker and his company will still receive at least $45,000 from the settlements, though the amount is considerably less than they could have gotten had they prevailed in court. 

Robert P. Tucker II in 2021

Both cases were profiled in Asheville Watchdog’s investigative series,

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Multiple Fraud Charges Filed Against Key Figure in Watchdog Investigation

Lisa K. Roberts, a subject of an Asheville Watchdog investigation, was arrested and charged with nine counts of felony notary fraud // Photos Feb. 2, 2022, by Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office

A woman at the center of an Asheville Watchdog investigation into real estate deals that netted Buncombe homeowners little or sometimes nothing for their properties has been arrested on multiple fraud charges.

Lisa K. Roberts of Asheville was charged with nine counts of notarizing an action by fraud or forgery, each one a felony punishable by up to 24 months in prison. She was released on a $30,000 unsecured bond, payable if she fails to return to court. 

After a court appearance Thursday morning, Roberts, 60, who is referred to   as Roberts-Allen in the arrest documents, declined comment through her attorney, Jack Stewart.

An Asheville Watchdog five-part investigative series, Equity Erased, detailed how Roberts assisted Asheville investor Robert P. Tucker II in acquiring properties in distress at far below market value.

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