Son sues his mom over Lake Norman estate proceeds

Charlinette Detmers’ former Lake Norman home in Denver, N.C., has been put up for sale by her late husband’s estate.
Charlinette Detmers’ former Lake Norman home in Denver, N.C., has been put up for sale by her late husband’s estate. jmarusak@charlotteobserver.com

The 19-year-old heir to a Lake Norman estate has sued his mother and a disbarred lawyer, accusing them of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars his late father left for him.

The son, Tols Detmers, is demanding a jury trial in Lincoln County Superior Court.

His father, Fritz Detmers of Denver, N.C., died at age 78 in 2009.

Fritz Detmers left hundreds of thousands of dollars in trust accounts for his son to access once he turned 18, court records show.

Tols Detmers says in his lawsuit that his mother, Charlinette Detmers, 39, was entitled to $60,000 from the estate.

But lawyer Peter Capece, who was appointed executor of Fritz Detmers’ estate, gave Charlinette Detmers $311,000 instead, according to the lawsuit.

Capece gave her $251,000 more than what she was entitled to, the lawsuit says, because he believed she could hire a lawyer who would uncover Capece’s misdeeds involving the estate, according to a legal report by the estate’s current administrator, Charlotte attorney Michael Allen.

Capece surrendered his law license in May after admitting in court documents to misappropriating nearly $1.6 million entrusted to him as the executor of the estate.

Capece faces an Aug. 28 contempt of court hearing, at which he could be jailed, for failing to turn over records in the misappropriation case, court officials said. The hearing was postponed last week after Capece and his wife, Kellee Ledan, filed for bankruptcy.

According to an affidavit, Capece admitted using the money for personal benefit.

Court records show he spent about $9,200 on an engagement ring at Diamonds Direct for Ledan.

Capece also gave $15,520 to Ledan’s now-defunct Tymiss Enterprises LLC, a boutique shop in Denver, N.C.

He spent $5,000 for a family vacation at Sea Pines Resort, a luxury beach resort in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and thousands of dollars more on his personal phone and other bills, records show.

Capece referred questions to his attorney, Rick Kane of the Charlotte law firm Poyner Spruill, who said last week Capece is cooperating “to the best of his abilities and will continue to do so.”

Charlinette Detmers and her son didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Observer this week.

Fritz Detmers’ estate, meanwhile, has put Charlinette Detmers’ former home on Lake Norman in Denver, N.C., up for sale to recoup money to which her son is entitled, Allen told the Observer.

Now vacant, the two-story, 2,400-square-foot brick home on White Oak Lane is for sale for $525,000. The property includes a floating dock and two-stall garage.

In his lawsuit, Tols Detmers also names the Lincolnton-based Jonas law firm. Capece worked for the firm before he was fired this year. The lawsuit says the firm is liable because it failed to properly supervise Capece.

Lawyer Johnathan Rhyne of the Jonas law firm said he can’t comment on pending litigation, “but again, for what (Capece) did, we’re appalled, disgusted and intensely disappointed. In over 100 years, we’ve never had to deal with anything like this.”

Capece, Charlinette Detmers and the Jonas law firm have until the end of the month to file responses to the lawsuit or request extensions.

Staff Researcher Maria David and Staff Photographer Mark Hames contributed.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak