November 13, 2021
OAKLAND — Lakireddy Bali Reddy, a powerful East Bay real estate tycoon who was convicted of sex trafficking and remained linked to large property groups after his prison term, has died at 84.
The wealthy landowner was sentenced to eight years in federal prison after admitting in 2001 that he imported girls and women from India for cheap labor and sexual gratification.
He was living in Berkeley until recently; he was pronounced dead of natural causes Monday at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.
Following his prison term, Reddy and his family continued to own around 1,200 rental units in Berkeley through real estate groups such as Raj Properties and Everest Properties.
A businessman originally from Andhra Pradesh, India, he founded an engineering college that bears his name in his hometown of Mylavaram, Berkeleyside reported.
Residents who lived in Reddy’s properties in Berkeley publicly accused him over the years of being a negligent landlord, with one tenant urging the City Council in 2013 to hold Reddy at fault for contributing to a fire that nearly destroyed a Dwight Way apartment complex.
Reddy’s name was most prominent around the sex trafficking scandal that led to several members of his family facing criminal charges. It began after a 17-year-old girl died in 1999 from carbon monoxide poisoning at one of Reddy’s properties.
Reporters at Berkeley High School’s student newspaper brought to light details involving the girl’s death, including that she had not been enrolled in school — a revelation that led to the sex trafficking operation’s exposure, according to Berkeleyside.
Prosecutors later accused Reddy of bringing girls and women from India to work for his business, then repeatedly sexually abusing them and imposing work conditions that were akin to indentured servitude.