RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond judge ordered the woman in charge of a local non-profit to pay up today: $47,000 for September rent. The owners of the Scottish Inn Motel sued Brenda Lee's company called 'Changing Minds Community Services'.
The motel was to house recently released parolees for Lee as she transitioned them back into the area. But the motel owners say they've never been paid a dime, and no one is watching over the two former inmates staying there. Brenda Lee did 'not' show up for court today. But the 'Scottish Inn Motel' isn't alone trying to collect payment for services rendered.
A long list of people are taking aim at Brenda Lee's non-profit company. Many called 12 on Your Side for help. Diane Walker interviewed 10 former employees and vendors who are intent on getting their money. Most have filed complaints with the State Labor Department and the IRS. Some are suing. They allege Brenda Lee, as C.E.O. of 'Changing Minds Community Service', owes them thousands.
"Here's a copy of the judgment I received for $6,000.... The employee contract that I got with my salary, the dates, her signature," said former employee Frank Render.
Render says Brenda Lee made a $60,000 offer he couldn't refuse, so he quit his job at another non-profit and went to work as program director for 'Changing Minds Community Service'.
"I had the knowledge and the ability to secure a grant through the Virginia Department of Corrections, which enabled her to bring in people coming out of the Department of Corrections into this program," Render said. "She ended up getting the grant."
Brenda Lee gave him one check over two months, he says, "That same day, she said, 'Frank you can't cash the check right now. There's not any money in the bank.' 8 days later, that Saturday, she actually came to my home and paid me cash for the amount of the check. That was the first and only time I got paid."
After 6 weeks of inquiring about his pay, working and waiting, he filed a warrant against the C.E.O. She fired him once she learned of the warrant in debt he says.
"I doubt I will ever see a dime of the money I'm owed. The reason that I'm here now is to shut her down from harming other people," Render stated.
Before today's court hearing, NBC12 tried three weeks to talk with Brenda Lee. Visiting her office and home, leaving messages; like the calls, none were answered. On our last trip, her landlord says he sued for past due rent and possession of property but Brenda Lee cleared out the office before the scheduled eviction, including furniture from 'Budget Office Furniture'.
"She just drove off and the policeman, 2 officers watched her go," said Pearly Covey, owner of Budget Office Furniture. "$3,000 worth of furniture. The original payment was 300 dollars. She hasn't paid me a dime since. The policeman said there was nothing I can do about it. It's a civil matter."
Former employees break down talking about their brief employment with Changing Minds Community Service.
(Have you asked for your money?) "Oh yes. Numerous times," said former employee Debra Nilson. "She said Debra you don't have to get a second job, it's coming. It's coming."
They say they stayed without pay until they were fired because of the parolees in need of help transitioning.
"When you got an X on your back everybody think the worst of you. When you are an addict people think you're no good anyway. That's why I kept going back, because I cared. But, I want my money," Tracy Johnson said.
The Department of Corrections and the city sheriff have not responded to NBC12's inquiry. But you'll hear more from former employees as the story advances.