Career criminal accused of living in home rent-free for 5 years


A convicted felon has lived rent-free for nearly five years in a half-million dollar home, according to court records and neighbors in the upscale Cherokee County community.

Phyllis Peterson, 46, has been convicted or pleaded guilty to numerous charges dating back to the mid-1990s in Virginia, including writing bad checks, theft of services, giving false statements and escape.

"I want to see her out of the house. I want to see justice take over," said a neighbor who wanted her identity hidden. "I think someone's protecting her."

Neighbors in the Governor's Preserve subdivision near Canton said the Peterson home at 602 Talmadge Lane has been the subject of multiple raids by law enforcement over the past several years.

Peterson's two sons, who lived at the house, have also been in trouble with the law. One was convicted of selling drugs; the other is a convicted sex offender.

"It puts us on edge. I can't let my kids walk themselves to the bus stop," said Glenn Braselton.

According to court records, Peterson's late husband purchased the home, deeded to Peterson, who apparently did not make mortgage payments.

Peterson hired an attorney to fight the 2009 foreclosure and subsequent sale of the home to SPT Real Estate in 2012. Peterson claimed the foreclosure was improper and has refused to move.

Neighbors are frustrated that Judge David Cannon hasn't evicted Peterson and instead granted her several delays in the foreclosure case. Cannon is apparently cutting Peterson a break in her most recent criminal case too.

Cannon allowed Peterson to avoid jail time by spending time in his courtroom Monday. Peterson was arrested in February on four charges of deposit account fraud and probation violation.

Jeff Williams, Peterson's criminal defense attorney, told CBS46 News that his client's most recent criminal charges were the result of an innocent mistake.

"No one's paying attention. No one's caring what happens to our subdivision," said a neighbor.

Braselton said Peterson's games hurt neighbors' property values but also cost taxpayers as she works the court system.

"Ultimately, I'm paying for her to sit in that house and do nothing, happy as can be, smiling when she comes out like she's done nothing wrong," said Braselton.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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