BEVERLY HILLS—Former City of Beverly Hills employee Brenda Lavender was arrested on Monday, July 10 for a possible embezzlement. According to a press release from the Beverly Hills Police Department, Lavender was taken into custody without incident and bail was set at $50,000. She will be arraigned on September 5 in the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles.
In December 2015, the city of Beverly Hills realized a possible embezzlement involving Lavender who was the Real Estate and Property Manager for the city. The City immediately reported the matter to the BHPD and her employment with the city was terminated. The BHPD completed a thorough investigation that revealed Lavender committed two felony offenses, including allegedly failing to collect over $800,000 from a city tenant over a period of 3 years.
During the commencement of the crime, Lavender was responsible for the oversight and collection of monthly lease payments from City-owned properties. From 2012-2015, she failed to collect obligated lease payments from one of the tenants and intentionally failed to report to the city of Beverly Hills that this particular tenant was in the arrears for lease payments. Failure to collect lease payments is a felony violation of California Penal Code §424(a) – Misappropriation of Public Funds.
Lavender failed to collect lease payments, in addition to allegedly proving false information on her 2015 Statements of Economic Interests – Form 700, where she failed to report a $15,000 loan she received from another tenant during the course of her employment. Failure to report a loan on the annual Statements of Economic Interest – Form 700 is a felony violation of California Penal Code §118(a) – Perjury by Declaration.
The investigation into the crimes pointed to a need for the property management operation to be re-organized in order to create the appropriate oversight and accountability.
To establish a check and balance process, the property management function has been split among three City departments: Administrative Services collects and monitors rent payments; Policy and Management oversees property leasing; and Public Works manages tenant relations. The city of Beverly Hills will be hiring an internal auditor to monitor all City operations.