City of Glendale staff identifies irregularities in transactions. City of Glendale Police Department conducts investigation into theft of public funds.
The City of Glendale is grateful for the announcement by the US Attorney’s Office of the filing of federal charges of “theft from an organization receiving federal funds.”
The City of Glendale recently uncovered information leading to a criminal investigation of former City employee Cassandra Alexander, 53, Claims and Litigation Support Supervisor of the City Attorney’s office, who is believed to have embezzled approximately $610,000 from the City between 2001 and 2017.
On March 16, 2017, the City Attorney’s Office was alerted by staff to a discrepancy involving the purported settlement of a claim for damages. The City Attorney’s Office and the Finance Department immediately began an inquiry into that payment. That inquiry led to the discovery of additional questionable settlement payments, which were made by the creation of false or doctored settlement documents. As a result of the swift investigation, one pending fraudulent settlement payment in the amount of $82,500 was identified and payment was cancelled on that check.
The City of Glendale Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit then initiated a criminal investigation, which included the service of a search warrant on Alexander’s home and bank accounts where evidence of her crimes was discovered and the aforementioned check of $82,500 was seized. The City made the decision to refer the case to the U.S Attorney’s Office, because the federal penalties are generally more severe. Through joint efforts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached an agreement where the employee will plead to the charges subject to approval by a federal judge.
Alexander was employed as the Claims and Litigation Support Supervisor in the City Attorney’s Office and was responsible for overseeing the handling of claims against the City. She was hired by the City in January of 1997 as a Legal Systems Associate. She was promoted to her current position in 2014. Alexander’s position allowed her access to official legal documents, including settlement agreements, memoranda prepared by the City Attorney’s Office to the Finance Department and the City Council, Council Motions, and the claims and payment processing software iVOS. She misused this access for her personal gain.
The City Attorney’s Office has safeguards in place to prevent this kind of criminal activity, including a password protected computer system (iVOS) where the same person who enters claim payment information cannot also approve the payment. Alexander circumvented these protections by obtaining her subordinates’ passwords, which allowed her to both enter and approve transactions, which would not have otherwise been possible. She also doctored City documents to process payments that she ultimately funneled to herself. No other City employee was involved in Ms. Alexander’s criminal activity.
Alexander was placed on Administrative Leave on March 20, 2017. She resigned on April 26, 2017.
Mayor Gharpetian stated, "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 US Attorney’s Office, as well as agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to ensure that justice was served, and Ms. Alexander was held accountable for her actions."