By Mary O’KEEFE
In a statement released by the Dept. of Justice on Sept. 29, a former employee of the Glendale City Attorney’s office was charged with embezzling $609,764 by creating documents to make it appear the money was being used to pay civil claims against the city.
The employee, Cassandra Alexander, 53, was charged on Sept. 28 with one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds. In a plea agreement Alexander agreed to plead guilty to the felony.
According to the City of Glendale, Alexander was hired by the city in 1997 as a legal systems associate and was promoted in 2014 to her current position. She was placed on administrative leave on March 20, and she resigned on April 26.
“The security of public funds and, more importantly, the public’s trust is paramount. There is nothing more that destroys this than an employee’s unlawful actions. The City of Glendale is fortunate to have partnerships with our federal agencies. Our City staff and police department worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as agents from the FBI, to ensure that justice was served, and Ms. Alexander held accountable for her actions,” stated Glendale Mayor Vartan Gharpetian.
According to the DOJ release, Alexander was a claims and litigation support supervisor at the City Attorney’s Office, and was responsible for assembling “settlement packets” that were used to resolve claims against Glendale for personal injury or property damage. Each settlement packet contained approval of the settlement by a member of the City Attorney’s Office and the City Council, as well as authorization for the city’s Finance Dept. to issue a check to the claimant. Alexander, who had unlimited authority to sign documents directing the Finance Dept. to issue checks, was responsible for picking up the checks and providing them to claimants’ attorneys.
From July 2001 through March 2017, Alexander created and submitted fraudulent settlement packets that caused the Finance Dept. to issue 30 fraudulent checks to be issued to her family members and acquaintances, according to the plea agreement.
Alexander created bogus settlement agreements and fake minutes of City Council meetings purporting to show approval of settlement payments to these false claimants. The Glendale Police Dept. seized an $82,500 check from Alexander before it was cashed that was made payable to a family member, according to the plea agreement.
The charge of theft from an organization receiving federal funds carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received substantial assistance from the Glendale Police Dept. and the full cooperation of other city departments.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia A. Donahue of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.