CHARLOTTE, NC – This story begins on 515 Ideal Way in Dilworth.
Last June, the property was in foreclosure and the house and two lots were set to be auctioned off. Seven bids were made, the highest bid being $48,358, according to court records.
But none of the bidders got this house, instead, the house was reportedly acquired for just $5,000 by a company called Home Appeal, LLC which state records show is run by Laura Shields.
We’ll get back to Home Appeal and Laura Shields in just a moment, but first, you need to meet some other people.
Pat Rader is sitting next to her mom, 88-year-old Mabel Bobo, who used to own the small quaint home on Ideal Way in Dilworth and did so for 56 years.
Mabel told NBC Charlotte that the house holds “memories on top of memories, I could write a book, I could. I raised three kids there.”
Mabel had taken out a loan some years ago and had tied it to the house, and when the loan wasn’t repaid, foreclosure proceedings began.
Mabel wasn’t aware of the foreclosure because she has dementia, as we saw during this interview at the nursing home where she now lives.
NBC Charlotte asked her “do you remember what you had for lunch yesterday?” Mabel closed her eyes and began to think. After a long pause, she replied “No, I don’t”.
Mabel loved her house in Dilworth and has fond memories that come and go.
It’s sad, and it’s hard for her children to watch their mother slowly slip away, which brings us back to Laura Shields and her company called Home Appeal.
According to Mabel, and the mobile notary that was there, Laura Shields, an investor, made surprise visits to her room inside this nursing home last summer.
And, during those visits, Mabel was asked to sign over the deed to her small home in Dilworth.
Mabel’s family didn’t know, the nursing home didn’t know and even Mabel didn’t know.
Mabel says she repeatedly told Shields “I’ll tell you what, you back off and leave me alone!”
Patricia Rader, Mabel’s daughter is appalled saying “to come in to someone who is almost 90-years-old and shove a piece of paper in front of them, and do it repeatedly until she was so tired of seeing them, she signed it to get rid of them!”
The NBC Charlotte I-Team showed Mabel a copy of the deed she signed for those strangers while she was lying in her bed, but her blank look, was just that, blank.
NBC Charlotte asked Mabel “Is that your signature?” Mabel takes a good look at the paper, her hands shaking as she holds it and looks up and replies “Yes, but I don’t remember signing it.”
Sitting next to Mabel, her daughter Patricia says as she wipes her eyes, “That’s why I’m crying, cause they did this to my mom.”
The I-Team and attorneys at the Surane Law firm are now fighting to get the home back as doctors say Mabel wasn’t in any mental condition to sign the house and two lots away in the first place.
The property resale value of Mabel’s house in Dilworth is over $200,000.
NBC Charlotte’s I-Team learned from the Bobo family that Laura Shields and her attorney asked for a legal mediation of the disputed real estate transaction.
Mabel's family says a lawyer for Laura Shields told them during the mediation that Mabel was paid $5,000 for her house when she signed the deed in her bed in the nursing home, and that they have an undated check stub to prove it.
But Mabel doesn’t have bank accounts anymore and her family says they never received a dime.
NBC Charlotte has learned that Shields offered the Bobo family $5,000 for the property (so she doesn’t lose her buyer) beyond what she says she originally paid for it. We’re told by the Bobo family that they rejected the offer.
NBC Charlotte confronted Laura Shields with a camera and microphone as she got off the elevator following the mediation.
We had a variety of questions for her including “do you make it a routine practice to go into nursing homes an acquire property like that?” We got no answer.
We asked “how would you feel if someone did that to your mom, would you be OK with that?” We got no answer.
We asked “how did you even know she was in that nursing home?” We got no answer.
Finally, we asked “do you feel you owe the Bobos any type of explanation?” We got no answer.
Shields walked in silence to her Audi, got in, slammed the door and drove away.
Laura Shields may own Mabel’s house at the moment, but she can’t do anything with it.
The Surane Law firm filed for, and got, a temporary restraining order that now blocks any sale or any future development for the moment. As of today, the case is headed to court in April.
“I want them not to be able to do this to anyone else in this situation," said Patricia Rader.
Late Monday afternoon, an attorney representing Laura Shields sent a response to our renewed request for Shields to answer our questions.
The attorney for Laura Shields, Derek Adler wrote:
“It would appear from the promos that I have seen on television that you have already decided the facts of the case. At this point, I suspect the reporting will be only from what has been provided to you from one perspective.
I further suspect that a complete reporting of the facts will not have the same media appeal as has been already suggested in your pre-publication advertising. At the outset, I would advise you that Rule 3.6 of the Rules of Professional Conduct limit what an attorney may say during the pendency of an ongoing proceeding.
However, in hopes that you will provide an objective report on this matter, I will provide you with this additional information. It will be interesting to see how much of this you incorporate into the report where you are “fighting to get an elderly woman’s home back.” On behalf of my client, I would ask that this matter be put to rest.
The allegations that you have set forth in your promos ignore several fundamental aspects of the case: First, Ms. Bobo’s house was in foreclosure by Ms. Bobo’s lender. It had been sold in the foreclosure proceeding and the house was in the upset bid period following the sale. I presume you know this and will make reference to it in your report. No family member had made any effort to remove the property from foreclosure.
Taxes had not been paid on the home for over four years. When Home Appeal, LLC purchased the property, not only did my client have to pay for the property, but my client also had to purchase it subject to the existing mortgage and all of the tax liens.
So if you report that the house was merely purchased for a flat fee to the owner – this would be clearly inaccurate.
I would think this could be easily verified by the nursing home. While the children’s involvement with her mother is not particularly germane, one has to wonder whether it is the interests of the children for their mother – or the asset they hoped to inherit – that is motivating them in this matter. Third, as I indicated above, my client also promised to pay off the mortgage (thereby negating any possible deficiency judgment against Ms. Bobo) and approximately four years of unpaid property taxes. Fourth, the value of the lot was drastically decreased when Ms. Bobo conveyed a large storm easement to the City of Charlotte several years ago. This makes the majority of the lot unbuildable, especially under Dilworth standards. The house, itself, must be condemned. I presume you have researched this as well as the information about the foreclosure and will reference this in your report.
As you can see, the property conveyance was not one-sided as you have publicly suggested. Furthermore, my client is still of the opinion that Ms. Bobo was fully competent and aware of the transaction.
In fact, Ms. Bobo has signed the lawsuit she filed in a sworn verification. This is a judicial admission that she is competent. An incompetent person is prohibited by law from signing such a verification. If a person is a minor or incompetent, she must participate in a lawsuit through a court-appointed guardian who can act on her behalf. Ms. Bobo has not done this.”