By Aaron Blevins, 12/27/2012
Suit alleges organization gives recommendations in exchange for financial support
The Beverly-Wilshire Homes Association (BWHA) has been giving favorable recommendations to businesses seeking permits, variances and licenses from the city in exchange for financial support, according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 14 by a former member.
The civil suit, filed by Stan Brent, who is also a Mid-City West Community Council (MCWCC) member, names BWHA president Diana Plotkin and former treasurer Lenore Sachs as the defendants. A jury trial has been demanded, with a case management conference scheduled for April 3.
In addition, the suit alleges that the organization’s directors refused “reasonable” settlements with businesses seeking support, opting to pursue legal actions to obtain attorney’s fees instead. The fees, along with the “coerced contributions,” were used for Plotkin’s and Sachs’ personal benefit, according to the lawsuit.
The initial complaint stemmed from an issue with Brent’s membership. According to the lawsuit, Plotkin revoked Brent’s membership last year after he began to question the actions of the association’s board members and directors. His $18 check for annual dues was never cashed or returned, according to the document.
Donald Karpel, Brent’s attorney, said his client wants BWHA officers to reimburse all funding that was misappropriated back to the association. The lawsuit does not cite a particular dollar amount or particular examples of misappropriations, but Karpel said Brent has a “factual basis” for the legal action.
Plotkin said she had been unaware of the lawsuit, and declined to comment on it without an opportunity to consult her attorney. She did refer to the legal action as “stupid,” and said the Beverly Press “better be careful” when writing about the association.
Sachs had not been served court papers either. She said she is no longer the treasurer for BWHA, but she never saw any directors use association funding for personal benefit.
“Nobody spent a penny for anything,” Sachs said. “There was nothing taken for personal benefit. Thankfully, none of us needed it. …I don’t remember anything like that ever happening. Absolutely not. It didn’t happen — not to my knowledge.”
She said the association does its best to serve the community, and that Brent, who she described as “confrontational,” has tried to “stir up trouble” at BWHA meetings in the past.
“We were problem solvers in the community,” Sachs said. “This is how I see us: problem-solvers in the community. …[The lawsuit] is Stan Brent’s mind working on overdrive. He’s just going too far.”
Brent also declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying that he needed to consult his attorney before speaking publicly about the legal action.