51 fraud indictments brought against woman claiming property ownership

May 21, 2024
 |
Lisa Cypress

Pictured: Lisa Renia Cypress, 2020 ShoreDailyNews.com photo.

By Linda Cicoira

A self described descendant of the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s Gingaskin Indian Tribe, who was unsuccessful in claiming ownership of Indiantown Park and a PNC Bank parcel near Eastville in U.S. District Court last year, was indicted earlier this month by a Northampton grand jury on 51 fraud counts that appear to involve her insistence that she owns local lands.

Fifty-nine-year-old Lisa Renia Cypress, of Decatur, Georgia, was indicted on May 10 on counts of maliciously filing liens or encumbrances in Northampton Circuit Court for two properties at Indiantown Park, the PNC Bank property in Eastville, the $4.4 million Eyre Hall farm, the historic 1765 Eyreville brick house and property, Smith Beach parcels, the $3.1 million Hermitage Farm, parcels in the Bay Creek development in Cape Charles, Bayside Village parcels, Pocahontas Farm, and the former Rosenwald School, in Cape Charles, which is owned by a restoration initiative.

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She was also indicted on counts of conspiring to file the fraudulent claims and soliciting another to file them. The indictments were sealed until her arrest and were made public Monday.

Cypress, a registered nurse, was arrested on May 17, a week later, after being stopped for failure to obey a lane marking. It appears she was visiting Virginia when she was detained and taken to the Eastern Shore Regional Jail. She was released on a $10,000 secured bond.

According to court records, she told a magistrate, “This is not fraud because she has a land patent for the property.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Jack Thornton brought the indictments via information from Special Agent Aaron Warren of the state police. An official said, “The investigation is ongoing.”

Twenty of the charges involve property at Smith Beach owned by THS Family Limited Partnership whose registered agent is James C. Smith Jr. There were two charges involving the property where Bay Creek’s clubhouse and pro shop are located, and a $4.6 million Townfield Drive parcel owned by Sun Cherrystone RV LLC.

The charges did not disclose who she is suspected of conspiring with or who she is suspected of soliciting. The incidents occurred in November, January, February, and April.

Federal Judge Elizabeth W. Hanes dismissed the case against the Northampton Board of Supervisors and PNC Bank in March 2023, saying Cypress did “not adequately allege that she ‘has good title and the right to possession of the property.” PNC Bank purchased its land in 1973, five decades ago. The judge said state law “clearly states any person who seeks to bring an action to recover land must do so within 15 years.”

Cypress alleged that “in 1640, the English government issued a patent ‘that set aside land for the Accomac Indians,’ who later ‘became known as the Gingaskins.’” In 1813, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law that terminated the Gingaskin reservation and divided the land with deeds going to surviving tribe members. Cypress claimed four of the plots were hers. She said her property includes the park and the bank parcel.

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An appeal of the case ended with the court upholding the initial judgment in favor of the supervisors and the bank.

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