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Posts published in “Equity Erased”

Asheville Watchdog Reporter Kestin Wins National Investigative Journalism Award

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.


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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.



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,


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?


Watchdog Reporter Sally Kestin Wins National Journalism Award

Asheville Watchdog won a National Headliner Award honoring the best journalism in the United States in 2021.

Sally Kestin

Equity Erased, a five-part investigative series by reporter Sally Kestin, won third place in investigative reporting for online news sites. First place went to The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions use technology to change society. The Better Government Association, an Illinois-based watchdog, won second place.

Equity Erased documented how Buncombe County homeowners, many of them elderly and/or Black, lost years and sometimes generations of equity to real estate investor Robert Perry Tucker II. An associate, Lisa K. Roberts, was charged in February with nine felony counts of notarizing an action by fraud or forgery. Her case is pending.


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,


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,


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.


Equity Erased, Part 5: Indiana man says name was used in Buncombe real estate deals ‘without my knowledge’

NC Secretary of State's office admits mishandling complaint

Eddie George's house in Gary, Indiana // Photo: Lake County (Indiana) Assessor

On paper, Eddie George was a savvy real estate investor, chairman of VLM Investments LLC that bought and sold nearly $1 million worth of properties in Buncombe County in a little more than a year.

But George, who is 65 and lives in a modest home in Gary, Indiana, alleges he had no knowledge of VLM or its business dealings and did not sign the legal documents bearing his name, according to relatives and a 2018 complaint he filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State.

George is the uncle of Lisa K. Roberts of Asheville, who, as Asheville Watchdog previously reported, has negotiated deals for investor Robert Perry Tucker II to acquire houses and lands from Buncombe homeowners, many of them elderly and/or Black, at far below market rates.

Roberts’s attorney,


Equity Erased, Part 4: ‘Missing’ Heirs: Local Attorneys Tell Court That Property Owners Can’t Be Found

“I’ve been in Asheville 20 years,” says one owner, easily located by Asheville Watchdog

Robert P. Tucker II, left, and Peter Henry at virtual court hearing // Screen capture by Sally Kestin

At stake inside a Buncombe County courtroom were a grandfather’s legacy and a family’s inheritance.

Asheville real estate investor Robert Perry Tucker II had just purchased 10 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but nine siblings in the Lyda family still had a claim to approximately 25 percent of the property, left to them by their grandfather.

So Tucker’s company went to court. Just three months later and without any input from the Lydas, Tucker’s company won a judgment that stripped the family of its land. The Lydas never had a chance to defend their ownership because, two of the brothers said, they never knew about the case.

Tucker’s lawyer, Peter R. Henry of Arden, reported to the court that none of the nine Lyda siblings could be located. Ile Adaramola, another attorney who had ties to Henry and Tucker outside the case,