MERCED — A former manager of the Tioga Apartments has admitted to embezzling thousands of dollars in rent money at the historic building, according to the Merced Police Department.
The former manager, James Hiestand, told police investigators he falsely marked units vacant in the company computer and then pocketed tenants' rent.
The investigation has been turned over to the district attorney's office for review, pending criminal charges, police said.
"In his own words he saw a 'flaw that he could take advantage of,' " said Detective Allen Adrian of the Merced Police Department, who cracked the case.
At the same time, Hiestand allegedly rented out a unit he was allowed to live in rent free, according to police. He also reportedly started building another unit for himself on the mezzanine level, complete with plumbing.
Hiestand, 50, started work at the Tioga apartment building in April 2010 as a maintenance worker and was promoted to on-site manager in November 2011, according to police.
In February, Manco Abbott Real Estate, which manages the apartment building, filed charges with the police, claiming Hiestand had embezzled $39,000.
Manco Abbott said it looked into the issue after noticing discrepancies in paperwork, according to police. The company said it notified law enforcement after Hiestand admitted to the theft.
"They did an audit and they started to find how he was moving money," Adrian said. "When they went back to fix it, they started to see all these apartments that to them looked like they were way behind on the rent."
During questioning by police, Hiestand allegedly admitted to the embezzlement. However, the former manager allegedly disputed the amount stolen, putting the figure at about $15,000.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Detective Adrian at (209) 385-4731, or the Merced Police Department tip line at (209) 385-6992.