The Trump-Deutsche Bank-Public Pension Funds Attempt to Thwart the Black Community


A terrible trio of corruption: Donald Trump's "banksters" Deutsche Bank, corrupt developer Ken Lombard, & John McClelland of LACERA are moving fast to try and ink an agreement to sell the Crenshaw Mall to outside gentrifiers any day now.


September 24, 2020

Mob-like intimidation tactics deployed against our community leaders, using Black and Brown people's retirement dollars to cut backroom deals that harm Black and Brown communities, and bringing in corrupt Black developers and telling bold-faced lies in an attempt to divide the community: this is heavy, and we have just started to scratch the surface. We'll continue to update this page as we uncover more about this corrupt process and the fight for the community.


An terrible trio of corrupt actors are colluding in an attempt to thwart the community-driven effort to purchase the Crenshaw Mall: public employee pension funds, Trump's "bankster" friends and corrupt developer Ken Lombard.

The sale of the mall is being overseen by its investors, which are public pension funds, including Los Angeles County Employee Retirement Association (LACERA), UC Board of Regents, New York City Employees Retirement System and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. They make up the Advisory Committee that Donald Trump's corrupt bankster friends at Deutsche Bank's DWS reports to on the sale of the mall. Deutsche Bank is where "you're liable to to be found dead if you know too much." (A "banksters" is a cross between bankers and gangsters.)

The leader of the pension funds is the local pension board in the deal: LACERA. The ring leader at LACERA on the deal is their Principal Investment Officer John McClelland (more about him below).

John McClelland has been working with Donald Trump's corrupt bankster friends Deutsche Bank to sell the mall to gentrifiers. LACERA transferred asset management responsibilities to Deutsche Bank's subsidiary DWS in early 2019, with among other responsibilities selling the mall.

How and why LACERA would vote to give control of the Crenshaw mall to Deutsche Bank who, among many claims to fame, engaged in illegal predatory lending that stole Black homes forcing them into a $4 billion settlement with Obama's Justice Department to aid distressed homeowners that they have simply refused to pay is something that demands explanation from McClelland and LACERA's board. Deutsche Bank is regarded as one of if not the most corrupt bank on the planet.

Deutsche Bank's DWS has already failed to sell the mall twice to gentrifiers: first to the Hackman Capital Partners-DJM partnership in early 2020 and then to Trump's buddies at CIM Group, who were forced out because of the Black community voice in June.

With two failed attempts to sell the Crenshaw mall to non-Black developers who want to gentrify our community, Deutsche Bank's DWS and LACERA decided they'd bring some "Black cover" to help do the Black community wrong. So they brought in one of their buddies, corrupt Black developer Ken Lombard, who failed at the mall and failed across the street at its blighted neighbor Marlton Square. (More about Ken Lombard and his son below).

This terrible trio is breaking all standard business practices, LACERA is violating their fiduciary responsibility to their members, and they have engaged in a secretive backdoor process to enrich their developer friends and Ken Lombard at the expense of the public.



John McClelland is the Principal Investment Officer for the Los Angeles County Employee Retirement Association (LACERA). LACERA is fully funded by L.A. County taxpayers and the employees of the County of LA (including members of SEIU 721 and AFSCME 36). 60% of LACERA payees/retirees are Black and Brown people. They have over $60 billion in assets under their control.

In America, public employee pension funds collectively have TENS OF TRILLIONS of public dollars in assets/investments in projects and companies. They make these decisions in a process that is far too secretive. One of their major investments: gentrification. This is a cruel irony because for many of the pension funds, their members are the ones being displaced!

Let's make it plain: McClelland has made recommendations to the LACERA Board to intentionally invest taxpayers and Black and Brown workers' money into displacing Black and Brown residents.

Many public pension funds are famously corrupt. Just last month, the chief investment officer of the largest pension fund in America (California's own CalPERS) abruptly resigned for clear ethics violations. His ethics violation (you can't make this up): while he was personally a shareholder in America's most notorious gentrifier, Blackstone, he was pushing the CalPERS board to invest hard-earned people's money into Blackstone! Blackstone more than any other entity was responsible for the theft of Black homes from the 2008 foreclosure crisis!

LACERA has denied public records requests of LACERA members for documents on the attempt to sale the mall. More importantly, John McClelland has habitually lied to LACERA members, the public, and possibly LACERA Board Members, about the level of involvement the pension fund has in the deal and sale of the Crenshaw Mall. And McClelland is the one calling the shots on the Advisory Committee that Deutsche Bank's DWS must report to on the sale of the mall.

John McClelland and LACERA play a central role in the sale of the Crenshaw Mall.



In an attempt to hide their effort behind a familiar Black face, Deutsche Bank's DWS (and we believe John McLelland specifically) brought in developer Ken Lombard, who is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Seritage Growth Properties. Publicly it was claimed that Ken Lombard was brought in as a contracted "community advisor," which is frankly laughable. Unless the "community" is the gated mansions of Ventura County, there's no community-anything about Ken Lombard. But he is Black...and frankly they needed some Black cover to help mess over the Black community and this righteous Black-led effort for self-determination and control of our community.

Ken Lombard's claim to fame is bringing Starbucks to the inner city, but his history as a developer is far more checkered. Within the real estate industry Ken Lombard is known as vindictive and corrupt. He is also famous for taking credit when things go smoothly, and bolting to his next gig when things get rough.

The Crenshaw Mall is no exception. From 2009 to 2015, Ken Lombard was the partner for Capri when they were managing the mall. Ken Lombard is undoubtedly to blame for lots of decisions to cut back on mall maintenance. Ken Lombard's fingerprints are all over the Capri development plan that was unbuildable, not financeable and would unleash a gentrification tsunami.

Ken Lombard is part of an elite collection of backroom deal-making non-community centric Black developers who keep failing epically at places like Marlton Square, because they couldn't fleece enough money from the public to line their pockets to pay for their gated mansions, personal jets and Ferraris.

But even more disturbing than Ken Lombard's history is his obvious conflict of interest in any sale of the Crenshaw Mall. Ken Lombard should not have been allowed anywhere near the process the pension funds and Deutsche Bank's DWS created!

First off, Ken Lombard is a corporate officer of Seritage, whose specific company mission is to purchase and redevelop underperforming/failing malls!

Second, Lombard worked for no less than two of the alternative teams of gentrifiers that submitted competing bids, and has a whole series of connections to several others.

Expecting that Ken Lombard has NOT cut a backroom deal for himself on the sale of the mall, is like expecting Donald Trump to NOT lie. It just doesn't happen if you've talked to anyone in the development community about Ken Lombard. Ask around yourself.

BOMBSHELL: It has recently come to light, that Ken Lombard has within his contract a provision that he gets more money if the mall is sold quickly.

So the community's reasonable requests for a 60-day extension of the original August 27th deadline; and more recently the community's supported request to allow all parties to provide a best and final offer, both of which are in the best interests of pension fund members, are in direct conflict of the financial interest of Ken Lombard.

At no point did Lombard disclose this information to the community, and we don't know if he has disclosed this to the pension fund board members. He definitely didn't disclose it when using his son, Jason Lombard, to spread misinformation and lies in the community as part of their effort to divide and conquer.



You can certainly say one thing about Ken Lombard, he knows what buttons to push to divide the community and which politicians hands to grease. It is apparent that he is working with his son, Jason Lombard, who sits on the local neighborhood council, to spread misinformation about the community-driven effort. (It is a standard tactic of developers to put real estate professionals on neighborhood councils, block clubs, homeowners associations and other community boards to move their development agenda.)

Jason Lombard has been in the Downtown Crenshaw open meetings and quietly meeting with community groups to spread bold-faced lies about the effort, about the community coalition partners, and about the mall's redevelopment process. He is caught on videotape/YouTube spreading these lies.

Even worse than their divide and conquer tactics is the gentrifier's mob-like activities, which are very similar to the actions that recently have come to light in the federal indictments of disgraced former Councilmember José Huizar.

After the community decided we should seek to buy the Crenshaw Mall on behalf of the community and would fight the sale of CIM Group, Ed Casey, who is the attorney both for the Crenshaw Mall and Carmel Partners started to roll out their campaign of spying, intimidation and smearing in an attempt to get the community to back down.

Carmel Partners has been in the news a lot lately. Carmel Partners is the corrupt developer of Cumulus, the 30-story monstrosity at La Cienega/Jefferson, and several other projects across the West Coast. Carmel Partners is fully embroiled in the scandal surrounding former disgraced Councilmember Jose Huizar, that has led to federal pleas and federal indictments for engaging in pay-for-play. (By the way, as revealed in that article, Carmel Partners, just like so many other gentrifiers finances their projects with public pension fund money!) When the Crenshaw community tried to interfere with gentrifier's plans to buy the mall, Ed Casey pulled a page out of the smearing, harassment and intimidation playbook that has been exposed in the Huizar scandal to go after one of our leaders, Damien Goodmon.

This spring, Alston & Bird's Ed Casey hired a private investigator to come to the home of Damien Goodmon, follow him around, and submitted into the court records on the Crenshaw Mall, the home address, date of birth, license plate and pictures of their apartment, in an strong-arm effort of intimidation.

Up until that point, conversations between the community's attorney and Ed Casey was generally cordial. Contrary to Jason Lombard's bold-faced lies, settlement discussions were taking place. But after it became clear that the community wanted to buy the mall and would interfere with gentrifiers plans to make hundreds of millions off of displacing the Black and Brown community, Ed Casey deployed some of the mob-like tactics that were uncovered in the FBI investigation of his other client Carmel Partners.

Ed Casey's acts were not only completely unethical, it was a violation of the protective order, Casey had agreed to with the Crenshaw Subway Coalition's attorney. There was a protective order in place to prevent disclosure of people's home addresses for real reasons. The board and advisory committee members of Crenshaw Subway Coalition include very public Black leaders on the front-lines of fighting for racial justice and Black people like Black Lives Matter's Dr. Melina Abdullah and Akili and legal scholar Dr. Jody Armour. These individuals often receive death threats and other intimidation from white supremacists. Casey broke the law and put his BAR card in jeopardy at a time of heightened racial tensions all in an attempt to intimate a Black community group to back down.

And here's the kicker: the person the private investigator followed around, was the wrong Black person! (I guess they thought all Black people look alike).


None of this should be surprising. In the past, Crenshaw community based organizations have shown and discussed the seminal documentary film, Battle for Brooklyn, which is about the corrupt process and subterfuge that developers engaged in to push through Brooklyn's gentrification mega-project at Barclay's Center against organized community groups.

When there are literally billions of dollars to be made on the backs of harming communities of color the gentrifiers bring in faces of color to be the front for their efforts, while real control is given to outsiders.

They spread lies.

They spread money to community "spokespersons."

They seek to grow community divisions to prevent the community from coming together to assert their rights and advance a collective vision.

Every now and then they trot out some major celebrities in an attempt to distract people and invalidate legitimate community concerns.

That's their playbook. Frankly, we expected it.

You knew they would not just allow the community to buy the Crenshaw Mall without a fight. There are billions to be made by their corrupt developer friends and criminal enterprises by selling the mall to gentrifiers and redeveloping it.

We're in a war to defend the Black-centered community and in a fight for the future of our Black and Brown community.

Get lined up freedom fighters!

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