Philly property manager charged with theft after eviction battle
The former property manager of an apartment complex in North Philadelphia, who has been accused of pocketing thousands of dollars in rent for residents, sparking a public eviction battle between the tenants and the landlord of the ‘building, was arrested and charged with theft, the Philadelphia district attorney’s office mentioned.
Frank Sanders, 31, was arrested by Pennsylvania State Police on Tuesday on Live! Casino & Hotel in South Philadelphia and charged with several counts of theft, concealment of stolen property, deceptive marketing practices and related crimes.
The bond was set at $ 25,000. The court file did not list a defense lawyer.
READ MORE: Philly landlord tries to evict tenants after his property manager steals their rent money
Sanders was previously the property manager for Moscow & Monica Apartments, just west of Fishtown. From fall 2020 to early 2021, tenants said Sanders offered them monthly verbal leases and no credit checks in exchange for higher security deposit fees. Unbeknownst to the residents, when they paid Sanders their monthly rent and moving-in fees, he pocketed the money, prosecutors said.
The owner of the building, Gagandeep Lakhmna, became suspicious after noticing a number of vacant positions at the complex, according to an earlier lawsuit. During his visit at the end of February, he found more than 25 occupied dwellings that had been registered as vacant. Lakhmna confronted Sanders, who admitted to taking the funds, then fled and could not be contacted, according to the lawsuit.
Lakhmna then told residents that everything they paid Sanders was zero and accused them of participating in the scheme despite the lack of evidence. He filed a lawsuit against Sanders and the tenants, and began locking people out of their units and the building, forcing some residents and their children to sleep in their cars or on friends’ couches. The utilities of some tenants have also been cut.
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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office intervened on behalf of the tenants in early March, saying locking residents out of their homes without court approval was illegal and violated the eviction moratorium at the time. After months of hearings, and Lakhmna was found in contempt of court and fined $ 22,500, the case was settled thanks to an agreement between the tenants and Lakhmna. He renamed the complex Fishtown Flats.
Amid the controversy, Sanders could not be found or reached.
The DA Economic Crimes Unit and the Philadelphia Police Major Crimes Unit investigated the allegations and an arrest warrant was issued for Sanders in June. He was on the run and was apprehended on Tuesday after state police met him at the casino and noticed there was an arrest warrant against his arrest.
It was not immediately clear what initially prompted police to check Sanders’ background at the casino.