BEVERLY HILLS—On Wednesday, January 10, former Beverly Hills Property Manager Brenda Lavender pled guilty to felony grand theft connected to an embezzlement investigation.
According to a press release Canyon News received from the Beverly Hills Police Department, the plea agreement places Lavender on probation for a three-year period, she must complete 200 hours of community service and was ordered to pay the city of Beverly Hills $100,000 in restitution.
From 2012 to 2015, Brenda Lavender, the former Real Estate and Property Manager for the city, failed to collect obligated lease payments from a tenant occupying a city-owned property. She intentionally failed to report to the city that the tenant was in arrears for lease payments.
In December 2015, the city learned about the embezzlement involving Lavender, which was immediately reported to the Beverly Hills Police Department and her employment was terminated. The BHPD conducted a thorough investigation that resulted in the suspect being arrested for two felony offenses, including failing to collect more than $800,000 from a city tenant over a period of 3 years.
Lavender was arrested on July 10, 2017 without incident and her bail was set at $50,000. She was arraigned on September 5, 2017 in the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles.
At the time of the crime, Lavender’s job duties included the oversight and collection of monthly lease payments from city-owned properties. The aggregate uncollected lease payments over the three-year period exceed $800,000. Failure to collect lease payments is a felony violation of California Penal Code §424(a) -Misappropriation of Public Funds. The original charges included allegedly providing false information on her 2015 Statements of Economic Interests – Form 700, when she failed to report a $15,000 loan she received from another tenant during the course of her employment. Those charges were dismissed due to the plea agreement.
The investigation pointed to a need for the property management operation to be reorganized in order to create the appropriate oversight and accountability. In order to establish a check and balance process, the property management function has been split among three city departments: Administrative Services which collects and monitors rent payments; Policy and Management which oversees property leasing; and Public Works which manages tenant relations. The city of Beverly Hills will be hiring an internal auditor to monitor all city operations.