Real estate pension official hit with theft charges

Beth Ann Roybal has been charged with stealing $500,000 from the Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association between 1993 and 2009, where she worked as a real estate investment official and property manager.

A retired Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association real estate portfolio manager has been charged with the theft of $500,000 from the $29.4 billion public pension.

Beth Ann Roybal was charged by Denver district attorney Mitch Morrissey with 19 counts of theft and one of forgery. Roybal was a senior portfolio manager at PERA until she retired in February, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Roybal is alleged to have stolen more than $500,000 between 1993 and 2009 by “skimming rent checks and submitting phony invoices for the property she managed”, Morrissey’s office claimed.

The 52-year-old was arrested on 14 June after the alleged fraud was discovered by PERA. The Colorado pension said in a statement evidence of the alleged theft was “immediately provided to the district attorney. Within hours, the Denver district attorney's office economic crime unit was able to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Ms. Roybal”. 

Roybal remains in custody in Denver, with bail set at $100,000, the district attorney said. Roybal is set to appear before Denver county court on 22 June to be “advised of the charges” against her.

The news has shocked many in the institutional investment community. One source told PERE Roybal was well-known to many on the private equity real estate fundraising circuit, dealing with real estate commingled fund investments for PERA and helping Jim Lavan, the pension’s real estate director, with fund selection. PERA had an 8.9 percent allocation to real estate as of the end of 2008, the latest available data, and 1.5 percent to opportunistic funds. It also had an 8.9 percent allocation to alternative investments.

“She was someone you stopped at the door of and presented your product to in order to see if you could get an entrée [into the pension],” one source said. “She was very well informed.”

Colorado PERA declined to comment beyond their prepared statement which “thank[ed]” Morrissey’s office for “the quick and decisive action by his office in the recent arrest of Beth Roybal”. The pension said additional charges against Roybal could be made, adding: “PERA will continue to work closely with the district attorney’s office in support of the prosecution.”