Rec center director accused of stealing kids’ lunch money
The director of a Los Angeles recreation center is facing felony charges after allegedly stealing up to $15,000 from the facility, including lunch money from children in her care.
Carol Brandt, who served as the director of the Montecito Heights Recreation Center, was arrested Tuesday and charged with embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, according to Los Angeles Deputy Dist. Atty. Dana Aratani. Brandt was released without having to post bail Wednesday afternoon.
She is accused of pocketing more than $10,000 from members of several basketball and soccer teams who paid to use the recreation facility's courts and fields between 2009 and 2010. She also is accused of stealing from the facility's snack bar and from young participants in a summer day camp.
Brandt's attorney could not be reached immediately for comment.
According to Aratani, Brandt kept money that campers gave her to pay for lunch and games during a field trip to an Irvine family entertainment center in 2010.
"She sunk to the lowest level possible," said City Controller Wendy Greuel, whose office investigated the allegations and referred the case to the district attorney's office. "She stole children’s lunch money."
Greuel said her office was asked in 2011 to look into the allegations by Recreation and Parks Department officials.
Brandt was hired by the city in 1997 and earned an annual salary of more than $65,000, according to Maggie Whelan, the general manager of the personnel department. Brandt has been on a personal leave without pay since May 2011, according to Whelan.
Jon Kirk Mukri, the parks department's general manager, said the conduct alleged by prosecutors does not reflect “the honesty or quality of our employees.”
“It’s an unfortunate fact of life that people do these things,” he said. “We know that there’s always a risk when people have control of money, of cash.” He said the department takes payments in cash because many of the low-income and immigrant populations it serves don’t use checks and bank accounts.
-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall