Inglewood falsified finances to attract NFL, former employee says

The former budget and accounting manager of Inglewood, California, has alleged the city falsified its financial records in its bid to attract an NFL team.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Barbara Ohno says in a 48-page federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that Mayor James T. Butts instructed employees to "create a facade of financial responsibility and well-being for the city" and that officials misused federal and state funds to cover daily operating costs.

NFL owners voted in January to move the Rams to Inglewood from St. Louis.

Butts said Ohno's allegations are "totally baseless and without any merit," and that Inglewood was never required to provide financial data to the NFL as three teams attempted to relocate to Southern California, the Times reports.

"The city undergoes rigorous and thorough audits by an outside audit firm," Butts said in a statement, according to the Times. "We are proud of the improvements made during my tenure in not only improving its reserves, but our financial reporting procedures."

Ohno was fired last June during her probationary period with Inglewood, and her allegations are part of a lawsuit claiming wrongful termination and violation of her right to free speech, the Times reports. She is suing for unspecified damages.

"I was told to stand down, look the other way and be a team player because when Inglewood got the Rams, there would be so much money coming in, no one would care how the city ran its finances," Ohno said, according to the Times. "I refused to comply with what I was told was the 'plantation mentality' in Inglewood and got fired for it."