Woman accused of stealing rent payments from two apartment complexes

Myrtis Shanklin
Myrtis Shanklin

Baton Rouge police arrested a former employee of two apartment complexes Tuesday accused of stealing more than $41,000 from more than 100 money-order rent payments in Baton Rouge and Zachary since 2009.

Police booked Myrtis Shanklin, 53, 7431 Kristen Ave., Zachary, into Parish Prison on 42 counts of bank fraud and one count of felony theft in the taking of more than $24,000 in rent payments from Scenic Garden Homes Apartments, police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said.

Zachary police Sgt. Johnny Dillon said Shanklin also would be booked on one count of felony theft in the theft of $17,500 in rent payments from Hooper Point Apartments.

Dillon said between August 2009 and October 2012, Shanklin cashed 57 money-order rent payments worth $17,500 at a local liquor store.

After she was terminated from the complex on an unrelated matter, the company conducted a forensic audit and found rent money was missing, he said.

“Basically what we suspect, she established a relationship — of course with her being a property manager there — with some of the residents there and we suspect that she had convinced them to not endorse the money orders,” Dillon said.

“So they would basically walk in and give her the money order and she would take the money order, put her name on it and endorse it and cash it at her local convenience store.”

After cashing the money orders, she performed intricate computer work to make it look like tenants paid, then she would go back into the system and erase the payment, Dillon said.

Dillon said it was “challenging” to sit down and figure out how she hid her tracks.

In Baton Rouge, the investigation began when a manager at the Scenic Garden Homes Apartments in the 6500 block of Scenic Highway noticed tenant rent payments were missing, according to the affidavit warrant.

He initially thought the residents simply did not pay their rent, but after an audit was conducted, the manager learned rent money had been stolen, the affidavit says.

When he approached Shanklin about it, she admitted to the theft, the warrant says.

Police subpoenaed Shanklin’s bank records and learned that between June 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013, Shanklin deposited 42 money orders from the complex worth $20,895 in her personal account, the warrant says.

That was the basis for the 42 counts of bank fraud.

She also deposited at least eight other money orders from the complex in the amount of $3,206 into her account, the warrant says.

McKneely said Shanklin might be arrested on another eight counts for the other stolen money orders in the future.