Ex-fiancee files counter-claim against Tate

By Lawrence Smith | Jul 24, 2009

Jackson County resident Annetta Fields alleges her ex-fiancee Donald Tate last year fraudulently conveyed title of this home they jointly owned on Chappell Road in Charleston to himself. Fields leveled her allegation in a counter-claim to a lawsuit Tate filed against her last month in Jackson Circuit Court seeking return of an engagement ring, and partition of property they own in Ripley. (Photo by Lawrence Smith)

RIPLEY - The ex-fiancee of a Charleston businessman says she never really was his fiancee, and before he claims any interest on property they own in Jackson County, he needs to account for an alleged slight-of-hand he pulled on another piece of property they own in Kanawha County.

In her reply to the lawsuit he filed against her last month in Jackson Circuit Court, Annetta S. Fields on July 16 admitted to some of the allegations Donald L. Tate leveled in his complaint. Among those were the fact that they hold joint title to 18 acres of property on Spencer Road in Ripley, on which she currently lives, and has not paid rent, taxes or insurance, and he did give her an engagement ring.

However, she qualified her answers saying, with regard to the property, she agreed to pay the 2008 property taxes, but Tate paid them ahead of time. Also, despite Tate's claims to the contrary, Fields believes she has contributed to upkeep of the property by either making improvements of her own, or "incurr[ing] a substantial debt" to pay someone to do it.

Records do not state when, but Fields alleges Tate "intended to gift to her an undivided one-half interest in the property."

Regarding the ring, Fields says Tate gave it to her as birthday gift when they were "purportedly engaged." While no dates are provided in court records, Fields alleges when Tate gave it to her "he signed a written statement hat he intended that the gift be absolute and unconditional."

Also, Fields says the ring was simply to keep up appearances. She alleges Tate "never intended to marry her, and that the ring was simply designed to ward off other potential suitors by showing that she was 'claimed.'"

Furthermore, Fields alleges that Tate, who has been married and divorced three times, "was engaging in relationships with other women, including but not limited to married women" during his engagement with her.

Deed forged

In addition to answering his complaint, Fields filed a counter-claim against Tate. In it, she alleges he fraudulently gained sole possession of a piece of real estate they jointly owned in Charleston.

Her counter-claim alleges she and Tate bought property on 865 Chappell Road in Charleston from Kathy B. Hunter on Aug. 14, 2007. Records show they paid $40,000 for it.

A copy of the deed granted and conveyed to Tate and Fields is included as an exhibit.

Though they paid $40,000 for the property, Fields maintains that it "had a fair market value which exceeded the amount paid for its purchase. Records in the Kanawha County Clerk's Office show the fair market value for both the land and the building to be $120,000.

After purchasing the property, Fields says improvements were made on the house, and it was rented to third parties. However, she avers that she never received any of the rental proceeds.

About a year after they bought the property, records show it was sold again on Sept. 22. However, this time Fields alleges it was done without her knowledge or consent.

According to her counter-claim, Fields alleges she was "divested of her ownership in the property by a conveyance to [Tate] of all her right, title and interest…for less then One Hundred Dollars ($100) consideration." The new deed, which also is included as an exhibit, showing her transferring sole ownership to Tate, is "a forgery and a fraud," Fields alleges, since she "never authorized any individual to sign her name to the deed."

Fields avers that "her name is misspelled" and she "only became aware of the deed recently after it was discovered by a third party."

According to Fields, the new deed "was signed after the parties were no longer purportedly engaged."

Furthermore, Fields alleges she was informed that Tate used the Chappell Road property as collateral for a loan to acquire the Tom Peden dealership in Ripley. Tate, who is CEO of the Fas Chek Supermarket chain, joined with Pomeroy, Ohio car dealer Mark Porter to buy Peden's GM, Jeep and Chrysler dealership in December.

On Jan. 6, the dealership was rededicated as Tate-Porter Family Automall.

In addition to never consenting to the conveyance, Fields maintains she "never consented to the pledge of this property as security of a loan of such purpose at any time." Tate's "fraudulent conduct," Fields alleges, has "unjustly and unlawfully deprived of her valuable property."

Fields is asking the court dismiss the complaint Tate filed against her, and award her relief sought in her counter-claim. In addition to judgment for the fair market value of her interest in the Chappell Road property, Fields is seeking unspecified punitive damages, court costs and attorney fees for both defending against the lawsuit, and pursing her counter-claim.

Fields is represented by Spencer attorney Anita Harold Ashley.

Jackson Circuit Court, Case No. 09-C-73

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