KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE TUESDAY: The Oak Ridge woman who filed a false lien against the former Villa Collina mansion will serve eight years on diversion.
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Kyle Hixson granted Erica A. Elliott's request for diversion Tuesday. With diversion, Elliott won't be confined.
Originally indicted for the state's highest level of felony for forgery over $250,000, Elliott, 37, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a lesser crime of forgery of less than $10,000. She also admitted to filing a false lien.
Defendants who get diversion have the chance to clear their names and wipe a criminal case from their record if they remain trouble-free during their diversion term.
Elliott's actions briefly tied up the sale of the mansion, now destroyed, last year. The new owners plan to build three homes on the Lyons View Pike site.
In granting diversion, Hixson noted that Elliott hadn't been charged with breaking a state law that involved abuse or neglect of the property "of a vulnerable person..." as defined by state law, records show.
When a grand jury returned the indictment last summer, the record indicated a second defendant also faced prosecution. That person has yet to be served.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Oak Ridge woman accused of filing a false lien on the giant, former Villa Collina mansion pleaded guilty to lesser charges Tuesday in Knox County Criminal Court.
Erica Elliott, 37, originally was indicted for forgery over $250,000, the highest class of felony in the state.
She appeared Tuesday before Judge Kyle Hixson and pleaded guilty to the lower level felony of forgery of less than $10,000 as well as filing a false lien.
She will serve consecutive terms on probation totaling eight years for the crimes. She's asking Hixson to give her diversion, which would allow her to wipe clean her record if she remains trouble-free during the eight years.
Elliott is to be sentenced on May 24.
Elliott and a co-conspirator filed liens in 2021 claiming a stake in the mansion on Lyons View Pike that overlooks Fort Loudoun Lake, records show. She had no legitimate claim, authorities say.
Authorities said she aligned with the sovereign citizen movement, declaring she was not beholden to state and federal laws. Members of the movement have at times filed liens against judges and other officeholders.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said sovereign citizens believe they get to choose which laws they obey.
The bones of Villa Collina: Knoxville mansion stripped bare ahead of demolition
Elliott's fake lien held up the sale of the empty Villa Collina, one of the biggest homes in the state, for months. The sale finally was resolved, going to three sets of owners, but she meanwhile faced criminal prosecution.
Liens are a type of claim against assets that are typically used to satisfy a debt. They are typically used by creditors to claim property that debtors used as collateral for their debts. Elliott's fake lien was $19 million, according to officials.
The mansion was stripped of valuables in December; crews started tearing it down last month. The new owners plan to build three homes on the grounds.