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Asheville Watchdog

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,


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.


Echoes From Civil War Reverberate In Challenge to Cawthorn Re-election

Does Constitution disqualify him for office?

Young guns: Rep. Madison Cawthorn, left, and Rep. Zebulon Vance in 1859 // Library of Congress

[This article was updated Feb. 1 to include a legal response from Rep. Cawthorn’s campaign.]

To former Army Gen. Joseph C. Abbott, a candidate seeking to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Capitol, his opponent was both unworthy to hold the office and disqualified by law. Never mind, Abbott said, that his opponent from western North Carolina had voter support and powerful political backing; the man had aided “an insurrection” and violated a sacred oath to “support the Constitution.”

The election that concerned Abbott was in 1870. His opponent was an unrepentant former Confederate colonel, an Asheville native whose name and legacy looms large in local and North Carolina history: 

Zebulon Baird Vance.   

Those charges from a century and a half ago are echoed in a pending challenge by 11 North Carolina Republican voters alleging that Rep.


COVID Surge Forces Mission Hospital to Halt Elective Surgeries; Emergency Services Still Open

Hospital "challenged" as more healthcare staff enter quarantine, memo says

Mission Hospital Emergency Department in Asheville // Peter H. Lewis photo

Staggered by COVID-19 infections, both among incoming patients and its own healthcare staff, Mission Hospital in Asheville is postponing scheduled surgeries at the main hospital and will admit emergency and critically ill patients only after a case-by-case review, hospital administrators said Tuesday.

“Beginning this Wednesday, January 26, 2022, the Mission operating room and other procedural areas in the hospital (Endoscopy, cath lab, IR, and others) will only proceed with urgent and emergent cases,” Chad Patrick, chief executive of Mission Hospital, wrote in a confidential memo to staff dated Jan. 25.

“We will continue to evaluate daily on a case-by-case scenario,” the staff memo, obtained by Asheville Watchdog, continued. “Any urgent/emergent case where the patient has not already been admitted, but will require a hospital bed, needs approval by multidisciplinary hospital leadership.”

“The ASC will remain open at this time but we will continue to closely monitor and may need to adjust depending on patient needs,” the memo said,


Hospitals Curtail Services as COVID Cases Surge to Record Levels

Unvaccinated patients fill beds as hospital workers fall ill

Slide presentation by Dr. William Hathaway, chief medical officer of HCA Mission. The latest surge began just after Christmas. // Screengrab, with added arrow, by Asheville Watchdog

Local hospitals, including Mission, are once again reeling under a perfect storm of pandemic pressures: record infection rates, overwhelmingly among people who refuse to be vaccinated; a sudden spike in the number of healthcare workers who are infected, on top of an already critical staffing shortage; and a shortage of COVID-19 test kits.

The latest surge began Dec. 27, following Christmas gatherings, William Hathaway, Mission’s chief medical officer, reported to the hospital’s medical staff on Monday. Children and people under the age of 44 are among the fastest-growing groups of patients, he said, and the rise in infected doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who care for them was almost literally off the charts.

State and local official reports indicate that there are now more COVID-19 infections in the Asheville metropolitan area than at any time since the pandemic began two years ago.


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,


New Report Sounds Alarm on Affordable Housing — Again

Region needs 20,000 units to meet demand; gap is widest in Buncombe

The need for affordable housing in western North Carolina is getting more severe, a new study commissioned by the Dogwood Health Trust found.

By 2025 the region will need 20,000 more units for lower-income households, the study found, with 70 percent, or 14,000, of those new units needed in just three counties: Buncombe, Henderson, and Haywood.

The study, by Bowen National Research, conducted in the first six months of 2021 and presented to the Dogwood Trust last month, also found that:

  • Nearly half of all households in Buncombe County (48.5 percent) were already “cost-burdened,” meaning that they pay more than 30 percent of income toward housing; nearly two in five households in Buncombe are “severely” cost-burdened, paying half or more of all income to meet housing costs.
  • Ninety-two percent of regional employers say the shortage of affordable housing is causing problems in attracting new workers,


Cawthorn’s Uncivil War

Congressman’s invasion into new district is triggering an intra-party reckoning

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, and Rep. Mark Walker at an American Renewal Project event in October. In return for Trump's blessing, Walker will not oppose Cawthorn ally Ted Budd for U.S. Senate.

When Madison Cawthorn revealed his plan to abandon western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District to seek reelection in a neighboring — and seemingly friendlier — district, he exuded confidence, even cockiness, about the outcome.

“We are taking ground for constitutional conservatism,” he wrote on Twitter, describing his move into the adjacent 13th District as if leading a righteous crusade into infidel territory. Otherwise, the 26-year-old Republican added, “I’m afraid that another establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican would prevail there. I will not let that happen.” 

Initially his bravado in jumping the district line — a legal, though rare move — seemed politically sound and his victory assured. As a rising media star on the GOP’s far-right fringe and armed with the endorsement of ex-President Trump, Cawthorn had raised $2.3 million toward reelection by the end of September, with more pouring in.