The first summertime event at a North Raleigh mansion this year was billed as an “Eyes Wide Shut Party,” offering promises of bikini-clad women in masks, according to unhappy neighbors.
As accounts of that pool party and others at the 15,890-square-foot, 20-room house circulate beyond the suburban Wake County cul-de-sac at the center of an unusual neighborhood battle, many eyes are opening wide.
On Wednesday, a steady stream of onlookers drove slowly past the large white home.
The Radcliffe Homeowners Association has filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court against the owners of the so-called party mansion, claiming that Pamela and Claude Verbal and her company, Metropolitan Lifestyle Mansion, have been operating a nightclub in the exclusive “upscale residential neighborhood in North Raleigh.”
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With accounts of poolside bashes — complete with private cabanas, exotic dancers, bottle service, cash bars and hookah rooms — neighbors contend that Verbal’s parties are a “nuisance” that interfere with their “quiet use and enjoyment of their properties.”
They have asked for the court’s help in shutting down the events, claiming that Verbal is violating the covenants of the 15-lot neighborhood, where homes are valued in excess of $1 million.
Last month, Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens ordered Verbal not to have any more events until the lawsuit could be heard in court.
But Radcliffe homeowners were back in court not even two weeks later, claiming that Verbal had violated the judge’s order and held two parties — one on May 18 that was advertised on social media sites as a “Video Shoot Party,” and a second on May 19 described as a “MegaMansion Pool Party.”
In a hearing that Verbal did not attend (she was in Las Vegas, her lawyer said,) Stephens held her in contempt of court and ordered her not to have more than five guests in her home at any one time.
On Wednesday, Verbal, 38, who according to court documents is estranged from her husband, Claude, was sitting on the deck overlooking the pool with two others. She referred questions to her lawyer.
Tiffany Russell, the Durham lawyer representing Pamela Verbal disputed neighbors’ accounts of the events.
Russell said nobody was selling tickets to the party or operating a cash bar at the home after the judge entered his order. She also questioned whether the neighbors who claimed to have been in the house had really been there.
“If all that they’ve said was going on was really going on, don’t you think the police would have done something?” Russell said. “They’ve been out there and they haven’t found anything.”
Verbal has not yet had an opportunity to present her side of the story in court, Russell said. She was in Las Vegas when neighbors filed court documents claiming she had violated the judge’s orders and when she was found in contempt of court.
Russell said a court date that was scheduled for this month was postponed with orders from the judge to the lawyers to try to resolve the dispute among themselves.
Verbal, who was convicted in 2009 as being part of a tax fraud scheme in Rocky Mount, has put the home on the market with an asking price of $2.9 million.
Nuisance for neighbors
In the court documents, the neighbors have described the gatherings that began occurring last summer as something they imagine might happen at “The Playboy Mansion.”
They gathered fliers and postings on the Internet, hoping to show that party-goers were paying from $10 to more than $100 for tickets to events in 2012 and 2013 that offered “private VIP cabanas,” “swim up bars,” catered food, “model hostesses,” “cocktail waitresses,” DJs and “beefy security guards.”
The neighbors contend in court documents that event-planning organizations and some radio show hosts broadcast the themes and times for the events. The documents claim party-goers could either pay through PayPal or other online accounts and then get further notice about the address, which comes back to 10625 Marion Stone Way. The street is a narrow road with big houses either newly built or currently under construction. The neighborhood is off Falls of Neuse Road, north of I-540, just past the E.M. Johnson water plant.
Shawn MacArthur, who bought his home in Radcliffe in April after renting it for a while, said in an affidavit filed in the lawsuit that he had been to one of Verbal’s parties while his family was out of town.
As he went through his neighbor’s home, he said, he came across a cash bar, saw a hookah room and crowds of people he did not know.
“A beautiful young lady approached me and ask if I wanted to have a private dance and more for $250,” MacArthur stated in the court document. “Being a married man of 23 years, I was not amused by this and this was the last straw. I left the party and have not been back to another one since.”
Wayne Cohoe, another neighbor who also submitted an affidavit for the lawsuit, said he had attended a party with his wife and noticed a large water bong in one room and “people wearing different colored event style wristbands, and overt sexuality from roaming model females.”
The neighbors contend they are so worried about the crowds that they are afraid to go on vacation or leave their homes unattended. They complain about noise from motorcycles speeding in and out of the neighborhood and about lines of parked cars.
They contend they are afraid and “must keep watch all the time.”
MacArthur said court documents that he had accumulated weapons in his home since the parties started happening, but did not specify what they were.
“I currently own 118 rental properties, several of which are Section 8,” MacArthur said in his affidavit. “I feel safer in my Section 8 neighborhoods than in my $2 million home.”