Barbara Ohno, the former accountant for the city of Inglewood, recently filed a lawsuit against the City and James Butts, the mayor of Inglewood. She claims that she was fired for exposing the city’s financial and accounting irregularities as they pursued an NFL team.
The details of the whistle blowing lawsuit are listed below:
- Ohno claims she was let go in retaliation for telling federal and state authorities that the city combined both its grant money and general funds in order to inflate their total budget.
- Ohno alleges that when she refused to comply with the "plantation mentality” she was told to look the other way.
- Ohno claims that her right to freedom of speech was violated.
- Ohno alleges that the city routinely engaged in faulty accounting practices and fraudulent reporting, in order to make themselves look more fiscally responsible.
- Ohno was assured by Butts and other officials that the arrival of the NFL team would create so much income that it would conceal the accounting irregularities.
- Ohno, along with two other accountants, were originally hired to audit the city’s books in August 2014. Ohno claims that they were hired in order to fix the disarrayed books and turn the city’s finances around.
- Since neighboring cities, such as Carson, were also competing to host the NFL team, there was increased pressure to have a viable accounting history. Ohno believes this is why Butts brought in three outside accountants to clean up their books.
- Ohno was fired shortly before the NFL decided to relocate the St. Louis Rams to the former Hollywood Park site.
The city of Inglewood denies Ohno’s claims. They stand firm that Ohno was merely hired as a probationary employees and was released before she completed her trial period. Since Inglewood was not technically required to present the NFL with financial data, they find Ohno’s claims preposterous. The city also claims to undergo frequent and rigorous audits by an outside firm in order to improve their financial reporting procedures.
What do you think of these whistleblower allegations?
*image by Flickr
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