STERLING – A maintenance manager at the Northland Mall was arrested there Sunday and then removed from the premises by police 2 days later.
John P. Woodward, 50, of Sterling, was arrested Sunday afternoon on a Lee County warrant for contempt of court after Sterling Police were called to the mall over concerns about a man’s strange behavior. Police were told he appeared to be intoxicated and mall employees found it odd that he kept coming in and out of the closed J.C. Penney store.
“Mall employees said he had been introducing himself as the new manager and he had keys to the mall,” Sterling Police Lt. Alex Chavira said.
Police contacted the new mall owners, Namdar Realty Group, who said Woodward was an employee “for the time being”.
Police discovered Woodward was wanted on the outstanding warrant and taken to the Lee County Jail. He posted a $500 bond and was released.
Then on Tuesday morning, a store manager who was opening the mall saw Woodward back at the mall. The police report said he appeared intoxicated, and was stumbling from the former J.C. Penney space to the mall office while carrying bolt cutters.
The manager said his behavior wasn’t aggressive or threatening, but police were called to remove him from the premises, not arrest him.
Woodward had been introduced to some of the mall’s store managers as the new maintenance manager Jan. 7.
Herzog & Sons officially turned over ownership of the mall to Great Neck, New York-based Namdar on Dec. 21. Namdar’s partner, Mason Asset Management, is responsible for managing the mall.
The transition has been anything but smooth. The entire local management team, including General Manager Karyn Brouilette, quit their jobs. Half of the maintenance staff also decided to leave, including the daytime manager position filled by Woodward.
Since Herzog’s departure, mall employees have expressed concerns about the leadership vacuum at the mall and a lack of communication with the new owners. In light of this situation, store managers have asked Namdar to step up its due diligence in future hirings.
Sterling Police said they are now in possession of Woodward’s mall keys.
Neither Namdar nor Mason Asset Management responded to requests for comment.