Is Inglewood Mayor James Butts continuing to intimidate city employees to suit his own needs? This appears to be a factual statement given new revelations surrounding the mayor’s purchase of a home owned by a trust, and whose administrator is a city contractor. After articles on the purchase ran on 2UrbanGirls and was picked up by the LA Times, the homes trustee, Chris Robert, contacted this author suggesting we “verify” the particulars of the sale. And we did.
From Christine Robert:
The house on 82nd Street was publicly listed on MLS beginning in August, it showed “in escrow /sale pending” for a couple of months and then was listed as active again in November when then current tenants couldn’t make the deal happen. In early November (I think) it was changed to an active listing – which incidentally is how the Butts family found the house.
2UrbanGirls contacted an Inglewood Real Estate Agent and asked them to perform an inquiry into MLS# 17-277494 which is attached to the address 3215 W. 82nd St. They were able to share that the home hit the MLS, as a public listing, on October 4, 2017 and went into escrow, with Mayor Butts and his wife on November 30, 2017.
The realtor was asked if any “off market” transactions were recorded on the property and if the MLS showed the property had previously fell out of escrow.
The listing agent [Michelle Hicks a long-time friend of both Mayor Butts and Christine Robert] would have control over whether the listing was made available publicly or just to realtors. She would have control over whether any previous transactions were recorded on the property that would be viewable on the MLS. Private transactions don’t have to go on the MLS unless the listing agent choses to make it available.
The realtor was unable to ascertain who the escrow agent was on the property.
The tenant of the home, Juanita Durkee, a tax preparer, was not available for comment on the down payment issue or whether she had a pre-sale report indicating the code violations on the property, to reduce their offer. It is also unclear if she is related to Kinde Durkee, who was a former campaign treasurer to former Inglewood District 1 Councilman Jerome Horton. The home at the center of this transaction is located in District 1.
On April 3, 2018, Inspector Greenwood, from the Building and Safety Division of the city of Inglewood performed a “pre-sale” inspection which revealed a slew of code violations, related to illegal conversions on the property. Its easy to miss the house is missing an accessible garage due to the fortress like shrubbery that surrounds the exterior.
The city verified that the April 3rd pre-sale inspection was the only one on record and they were also able to verify that neither the Vera Robert Trust nor Mayor Butts received notices to correct the violations as the department does for every other resident in the city of Inglewood that has code violations on their structures.
This would imply there was NEVER another party in escrow to purchase the home as Ms. Roberts told both 2UrbanGirls and the LA Times.
Records also show that an interspousal grant deed was recorded on April 9, 2018, which removed Mayor Butts’ wife Judy and made him the sole owner. An “interspousal transfer deed” transfers title (ownership) between a married couple. A gift given by one spouse to the other during the marriage is considered “separate” (owned separately), not “marital” (mutually-owned) property.
It is also crucial to note that the home directly across the street, is owned by the brother of Christine Robert. Recording docs also show that Mayor Butts lists his primary residence as his property on Shenandoah.
It is clear, that Mayor Butts is abusing his position as mayor to intimidate city employees from performing their jobs, he is cheating the city out of revenue by not receiving code violations that carries financial penalties and he is leveraging the awarding of city contracts for personal favors.
Christine Roberts to the LA Times:
In an email, Robert said: “The house was shown several times and no one else made serious offers … I sold the house because we need the funds to continue to support my mom.” She added that she “never had a conversation with Jim Butts about the sales price.”
Inglewood’s District 1 is the most sought after area in city limits where home values have skyrocketed. It is hard to believe she received no “serious” offers on the property, between October and November when the listing was finally made public, especially considering it wasn’t until April 3rd, days before escrow closed with Mayor Butts, that a pre-sale inspection was performed that noted the illegal conversions on the property.
2UrbanGirls contacted Christine Robert to allow her an opportunity to clear up the discrepancy in her statements, based on the research she asked this author to do, and she did not return our call by the requested time prior to press time.