According to court documents filed with Wake County Superior Court by the North Carolina State Bar in April, Shepherd issued a check for $548,450.01 on April 7 from her trust account with First Charter to Joe Brewer, a Wilkesboro attorney who was acting as commissioner for the sale of a 57.64 acre tract in Ashe County. This was the amount being transferred from her clients, Timothy C. and Melanie P. Miller of West Jefferson.
The court documents state that Brewer “attempted to deposit this check into his trust account at First Citizens Bank but was notified that there were insufficient funds in Ms. Shepherd’s First Charter Bank account to fund the check.”
According to an affidavit by Edward R. White, an investigator employed by the N.C. Bar, “Mr. Brewer contacted Ms. Shepherd, who claimed that she had mistakenly deposited the funds from the closing into the wrong account, an account with AF Bank in Jefferson.” On April 10, however, she sent an email (a copy was included in the court documents) stating, “Because of my deposit error, there is a hold on the funds. I am trying to get them to turn loose of them and wire them to you.” On April 11, Shepherd stated in an email to Brewer that “It will be Monday before the wire will go out. Ken Oglesby from First Charter headquarters in Charlotte has indicated that Monday is the best they can do to make sure the multi-million dollar balance that I have there is collected funds. I will personally compensate Mr. Brewer and each of the payees $1,000 cash for the inconvenience and delay as well as the headaches this has caused.”
This was followed with a email from Shepherd on April 14, which stated, “There is a 7 day business hold on the funds which means they are not available until Thursday.” In that email, Shepherd stated Brewer would “receive a wire from BB&T tomorrow in the amount of $306500.00. The rest will be official bank checks that I have delivered to your office tomorrow evening.”
By this time, Brewer had contacted the State Bar, and White was opening his investigation. After leaving phone messages for two days, White stated he spoke with Shepherd on April 16. According to White’s affidavit, “At 5:37 p.m. on April 16, 2008 I received a voice mail message from Ms. Shepherd stating that she had received a $1.3 million credit to her First Charter trust account that would cover the negative balance in her AF account. She did not identify the source of the $1.3 million. She also did not explain why the AF account had a negative balance if she had mistakenly deposited the fund from the closing in the AF account.” The next morning, White said Shepherd left another voice mail, “stating she was on her way to sell a camper to raise more money to satisfy the shortage in the trust account.”
Based on White’s investigation, the N.C. Bar filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoining Shepherd from “accepting or disbursing any further client or fiduciary funds.”
On April 24, Judge Donald W. Stephens granted the preliminary injunction. Shepherd was ordered to turn over all financial records connected with client or fiduciary funds.
Meanwhile, federal authorities, the SBI and the Jefferson Police Department are also investigating Shepherd. At press time, charges had not been filed.