Appraiser Pleads Guilty to Fraud in Syndicated Conservation Easement Case



Polsinelli’s Government Investigations and Tax attorneys continue to follow the well-known Fisher case, the Department of Justice’s ("DOJ") first criminal indictment related to syndicated conservation easements. Walter "Terry" Douglas Roberts II, of North Carolina, pled guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States as part of a syndicated conservation easement tax shelter "scheme" allegedly promoted by Inland Capital Management, LLC. Mr. Roberts was an appraiser defendant in Fisher.

According to the plea, Mr. Roberts provided fraudulent appraisals of conservation easements from 2007 to 2018. In the plea agreement, Roberts admitted to fraudulently inflating the values of 18 conservation easements to help Inland Capital reach a targeted appraisal value that would result in a significant charitable deduction for investors.

Mr. Roberts is scheduled for sentencing on November 14, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. The remaining Inland Capital defendants are scheduled for trial in July of 2023.

As part of Mr. Roberts’ plea agreement, he agreed to cooperate with the DOJ and the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") in their various civil and criminal investigations and proceedings related to conservation easements. Mr. Roberts’ guilty plea identified the following Inland Capital funds:

  • Robinson Laurel Partnership (2008, 2009, 2010)
  • High Mountain Meadow Investors, LLC
  • Grassland Investments, Ltd.
  • NC Conservation, LLC
  • Highland Highwaters, LLC
  • Highland Highwaters II, LLC
  • Laurel Headwaters, LLC
  • Meyers Limited Partnership
  • Thompson Mountain Holdings, LLC
  • River Club Holdings, LLC
  • Inland Bluffton, LLC
  • Mountaintop Property Investments, LLC
  • NC Whisper Mountain Holdings Ltd.
  • Chestatee Holding Company, LLC
  • Equity Investment Associates, LLC

Noticeably, Mr. Roberts’ obligation to cooperate is not limited to Inland Capital funds. Individual investors and professionals with clients who invested in any fund appraised by Mr. Roberts should consult their attorney to determine the impact of his plea.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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