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Oak Ridge woman accused of filing bogus lien that's tying up sale of lavish Villa Collina mansion

The sprawling Lyons View Pike home is poised for sale at close to $8 million after being on the market for months.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Villa Collina, the massive Knoxville mansion with the convoluted past, once again has a new buyer.

But a legal wrinkle that now includes both the criminal and civil courts is tying up sale of the 40,000-square-foot home on Lyons View PIke.

An Oak Ridge woman is charged with filing in June what authorities say was a bogus lien on the multimillion-dollar, eight-bedroom, 11-bath residence overlooking Fort Loudoun Lake.

A Knox County grand jury returned the three-count indictment Wednesday, which includes a forgery count. Documents show a second person has been indicted but hasn't been served yet.

Credit: KCSO
Erica A. Elliott

Erica Elliott, 36, also is being sued in Knox County Chancery Court over alleged false claims filed on the property. Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are what's identified as Daion Dushawn Elliott Trust and something called the Allah International Federal Government, which may not actually exist.

Sort through all of the legal paperwork that's been filed in the case and here is what it comes down to: Someone wants to buy one of the state's biggest houses for close to $8 million but can't because two people in Anderson County are alleged to have filed a claim -- legitimate or otherwise -- that's preventing the purchase from going through.

Realtor Debbie Elliott-Sexton is handling sale of property. While she said Friday she was not able to identify the buyer yet, she said the buyer is someone of high integrity who is willing to wait until the legal mess gets resolved.

"The property is absolutely stunning," Elliott-Sexton said. "It's a beautiful home with a positive feeling."

Nick McBride, Knox County's register of deeds, is a witness in the criminal case. It's through his office that Erica Elliott filed the $19 million lien document that has tied up sale of the mansion.

Marble columns, rails, and floors abound throughout the Villa Collina.

"They had no right to put the lien on the house, the owner of of the property didn't owe them any money," said John Valliant, a local attorney not involved with this case. "All the folks that had involved in that and are subject to face a felony."

Elliott is free on bond, awaiting prosecution in Knox County Criminal Court on the felony charges. Judge Steve Sword has been assigned the case.

McBride has worked more than 30 years in the Register of Deeds Office and is serving his first elected term as head of the office.

McBride said Elliott's lien paperwork bears the telltale signs of someone in what's called the Sovereign Citizen Movement. 

"For an example, around the zip code, there are brackets, there are thumb prints on the documents," McBride said. "Things of that nature, which would make one think that it would be a sovereign citizen."

McBride said he's had to contend in the past with people who identify as sovereign citizens, but this is the first time he can recall state law being applied locally against someone accused of filing a bogus lien.

View of sloping waterfront property at the rear of Villa Collina.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center: "Sovereign citizens believe that they – not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials – should decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. Most sovereign citizens also don’t believe they should have to pay taxes. They clog up the courts with indecipherable filings and, when cornered, many of them lash out, retaliating through acts of paper terrorism and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence – usually directed against government officials."

Elliott, Daion Dushawn Elliott Trust and the entity identified as the Allah International Federal Government are being sued by the current listed owner of the home, Resolution Systems LLC. The LLC is linked to an Afghanistan man who acquired the home from defense contractor Eric Barton after winning a $33 million legal judgment in U.S. District Court in Knoxville against Barton.

The defendants' offer no proof of how they could have any claim on the property, the lawsuit states.

"The purported lien is an unlawful cloud upon the plaintiff's title to the property, and the plaintiff is entitled to the entry of an order quieting title and discharging the purported lien as a cloud on the plaintiff's title," the lawsuit states. 

View from upstairs at the main entrance of Villa Collina.

Resolution Systems is asking a chancellor to bar the defendants from filing any more liens against Villa Collina.

The house has changed hands several times over the last 20 years. It's been listed for sale at times for as much as $20 million.

"It's been for sale more than it's been occupied," said McBride. 

Elliott-Sexton said this is the third time she's handled sale of the house.

The house's many amenities include a swimming pool, library and wine cellar. Besides Fort Loudoun Lake, views include the distant Smoky Mountains.

If you're going to own a property of that magnitude, you also can count on a stiff property tax bill. 

In 2016, city of Knoxville property taxes were $49,808.08. Villa Collina's city bill for 2020 was $68,307, records show.

The total appraised value is listed at $11,089,800, county records show.

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