LANCASTER, Texas — A Lancaster couple was arrested Wednesday after investigators say they fraudulently transferred nine property deeds worth more than a million dollars to themselves and one other person that rightfully belong to the estate of a former Dallas teacher.
Per Dallas County court documents, Belinda and Anthony Tucker both face a single charge of theft of property worth more than $300,000.
Their criminal cases are largely due to the investigative work of attorney Alisha Melvin now representing the estate of Arnold Young, who died at 82 in February this year.
Young was a beloved English teacher who worked for the Dallas Independent School District for more than 30 years, according to his family.
He was also a co-owner of Lott's Mortuary.
He left those family members nine properties scattered across the city that were collectively worth $1.1 million per court documents.
But when one of the tenants in those properties didn't pay rent, Melvin said Young's estate wanted to know why and pursued an eviction.
She did some digging and learned that her clients didn't own the property anymore.
The property deed, court documents read, had been transferred to the tenant living there with the help of the Tuckers and one of their companies called "Mutal Freedom."
Melvin told WFAA she got suspicious.
"It was just one of the properties in my probate case," Melvin said. "And it literally leads me down a rabbit hole."
After checking with the county, Melvin said that the other eight properties Young left behind also no longer belonged to his estate on the books.
"They all had the exact same deed, the exact same language, and they were notarized by Belinda Tucker herself," Melvin said.
"They're basically running a scam where they try to amass properties and then sell them to unsuspecting third parties."
WFAA's investigative team has covered something similar to these allegations before and has shown how easy it is to forge a deed and file it with the county.
Melvin knows it all too well in her field and says there needs to be better oversight.
"Someone can steal your property by going down to the recorder of deeds, signing and creating a document, and then filing it with the clerk," Melvin said.
"It's that easy."
When confronted by Lancaster Police investigators, court documents read that Belinda Tucker relayed to detectives that Young signed over his residences to her business for charity.
However, investigators wrote that Tucker couldn't show any evidence that she had a relationship with Young outside of just having his phone number.
They also wrote that Belinda told them that Young had shown her his "original will," showing he would give her the homes.
But that wasn't enough, and detectives surmised that the Tuckers transferred the deeds to themselves without consent of Arnold's estate per court documents.
Tucker also said she had lost her notary book. Texas notaries must provide a certified copy of any notarial record to any person requesting a copy upon payment of the fees allowed by law.
Belinda Tucker did not return phone calls from WFAA Wednesday.
Melvin said she acted because many more could be involved than just the Young family at this point.
"I have to get to the bottom of this for anyone else that's going to be affected down the road," Melvin said.
Belinda Tucker formerly ran for mayor of Lancaster and lost in 2019.
But she and her husband are more famously known in the community for something else that happened that year.
Belinda was shot at least four times, she says, by one of her neighbors over unpaid HOA dues.
On Aug. 4 that year, police were called around 5 p.m. to the 1000 block of Rawlins Drive in the Pleasant Run Estates neighborhood after the shooting.
Police said at the time that neighbor Ken Haggerty likely shot Tucker because her husband, the HOA president of the neighborhood, placed a lien on Haggerty's home for not paying dues.
Haggerty, 59, was arrested on two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after the shooting.