Asheville attorney arrested, charged with real estate crimes

The checks, totaling $97,490, included $1,793 for “furniture and repairs”, $3,801 for a Toyota dealership, $20,000 for “transportation and ongoing work”, $7,429 for ” Lisa Roberts-Allen, $2,500 to Lisa Allen “for DIY jobs.”

An Asheville attorney was arrested June 15 on six felonies related to Buncombe County real estate deals, and her client, a woman previously charged with fraud, was arrested on 32 other counts of forgery.

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

Arrest warrants say Adaramola, 37, “while serving as a duly commissioned North Carolina notary public received a certification that the notary public knew was false.” [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 a criminal record, she would likely get parole under state sentencing guidelines.

Roberts, booked under her married name Roberts-Allen, was charged with six counts of forgery, a Class H felony, each punishable by up to 39 months in prison, and 26 counts of Class I check forgery, each punishable are punishable by up to 24 months imprisonment. The charges against Roberts are more serious and could result in a prison sentence if convicted, defense attorneys said.

Roberts, 60, was taken into custody at the Buncombe County Courthouse when she appeared for a hearing on her previous charges, nine counts of notary fraud, on June 15, 2022. She was released from jail Wednesday afternoon after posting $10,000 bail.

Adaramola was arrested at her Asheville law office last Wednesday. “She asked if she could talk on the phone before we left. We allowed her,” said Lt. Bryon Crisp, Executive Sheriff of Buncombe. “She was polite. She cooperated.”

Adaramola was released on unsecured bail of $3,000, payable if she does not return in court. Neither Adaramola nor Roberts responded to messages asking for comment.

Both featured prominently in the Asheville Watchdog investigative series Equity Erased, which revealed how Buncombe homeowners, many of them elderly and black, lost years and sometimes generations of real estate fortunes in deals with Roberts and Asheville investor and attorney Robert Perry Tucker II . For many of the homeowners, their homes were their only asset.

Last Wednesday’s indictments, initiated by North Carolina’s Secretary of State, come from a company, VLM Investments LLC, which was formed in 2017 with Adaramola as its registered agent. Roberts’ uncle, Eddie George of Gary, Indiana, was listed as chairman.

George said in a 2018 complaint that he had no knowledge of VLM and would not sign any documents bearing his name. His family previously told Asheville Watchdog that George is disabled and has rarely left Indiana.

VLM bought and sold four properties in Buncombe County and filed lawsuits, all with George allegedly signing the legal documents. The warrants claim that it was Roberts who forged her uncle’s signature on four deeds and two mortgages. The documents contain Adaramola’s signature and notary seal, certifying that George appeared before her in person.

VLM also maintained a bank account with Capital One. On 26 occasions from August 2017 to September 2018, the warrants allege that Roberts “counterfeited, wrote and forged a check” that contained “Eddie George’s forged signature.”

Roberts has been involved in Buncombe County real estate for years and often works with Tucker. Adaramola opened her law practice in 2014 and has represented Roberts and her companies in court and in real estate transactions.

One of the properties VLM bought was a 50 percent interest in a home in Arden owned by a man who had spent decades as a law enforcement officer in Asheville and Buncombe County. A recent civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the ex-officer accuses Roberts, Adaramola, Tucker and two others – Tucker’s attorney Peter R. Henry and realtor Kirk Booth – of fraud in a plan to illegally sell his home and keep more than $40,000 of it belonged to him.

North Carolina’s Secretary of State launched a criminal investigation last year after reporting from Asheville Watchdog. So far, only Adamamola and Roberts have been charged.

Buncombe District Attorney Todd Williams said he had nothing to say other than to say the investigation is ongoing.

The North Carolina State Bar is also investigating.

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team that produces stories important to Asheville and Buncombe County. Sally Kestin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter.

Asheville Watchdog thanks the First Amendment Clinic at Duke University School of Law for their support.

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