Developer’s guilty plea prompts commission probe

SOUTHAVEN — The Mississippi Real Estate Commission plans to open an investigation into the dealings of DeSoto County developer Chuck Roberts after Roberts pleaded guilty last week to a federal bank fraud charge involving a Southaven subdivision.

Roberts, 46, pleaded guilty to bank fraud last Thursday in federal court in Oxford. Roberts was accused of submitting fake documents and making false statements to Citizens National Bank to get money from a $5 million loan that his development company, RH Holdings, had with the bank. The loan was to develop Cherry Hill subdivision in Southaven, which was never built.

Roberts will be sentenced on the federal charge in April or May.

“His guilty plea in federal court to a felony charge which is directly related to real estate activity is going to necessitate the MREC opening a new investigation into the circumstances surrounding his plea,” Robert Praytor, the MREC’s executive director, told The Commercial Appeal.

In 2012, Roberts’ license was suspended for a year after the commission found he violated state real estate laws during a land deal with the city of Southaven. The Commercial Appeal reported that Roberts pocketed $45,000 for a single day’s work on the land deal, in which Southaven paid his company, RH Holdings, $370,000 on March 24, 2010, for 19.96 acres of vacant land. The city bought the land to install a detention pond and piping for the Autumn Woods drainage project.

Records show the city paid $370,000 in March 2010 to Roberts’ firm for the land that Roberts had bought the same day for $325,000. Landowner Jimmy L. Dodson told The Commercial Appeal he didn’t know the city was eyeing his property when he sold the land to Roberts.

Roberts, who has been a broker for 16 years, is not allowed to participate in any property transactions with Mississippi brokers using his Tennessee broker’s license.

Roberts owned RH Holdings with former business partner, Jamie Harris, who was also indicted last week on bank fraud charges that Roberts has admitted to. Harris entered a not guilty plea to the charges and is slated to go to court March 4.

Praytor did not say how long the new investigation into Roberts would take.

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