INGLEWOOD – Inglewood Treasurer Wanda Brown has filed her second amended complaint in her ongoing lawsuit against the City, mayor, and members of the council. The amended complaint includes allegations of misuse of public funds by Mayor James Butts.
The complaint details on two separate occasions, November 25, 2019, and Jan. 28, 2020, Brown wrote two separate multi-page memos, and addressed and delivered them to persons with authority to investigate, discover and correct legal violations.
Brown alleged to City Attorney Ken Campos, City Manager Artie Fields, Mayor James T. Butts, and the members of the city council that she had concerns about illegal activity occurring in the form of illegal misappropriation of City Bond funds by the mayor.
“…Treasurer Brown believed that Mayor Butts personally issued a $77,418.26 overpayment to city contractor [Pinner Construction] that was an improper and illegal overpayment which amounts to misappropriation of funds under California Penal Code 424(a)(1)..”
Brown remarked during several publicly televised meetings what Butts was doing was unprecedented.
“Never in the history of the City has the mayor personally signed off on bond proceeds on his own,” said Brown.
During the June 16, 2020 regular city council meeting, six months after Brown reiterated her claims that an overpayment was made, the mayor called up a member of the finance department to address the overpayment.
Sharon Koike-Pitpit stated Pinner Construction was in fact overpaid, but it was deducted from another payment owed to them, which Brown said was also improper.
The April 5, 2022 warrant register detailed the city spent $25,000 on food for law enforcement personnel during Super Bowl weekend. The City used funds from the U.S. Bank Account, which according to Brown, holds bond proceeds.
The mayor was asked about the expenditures coming from the bond proceeds and he didn’t deny it.
“This food was for a 24/7 multi-jurisdictional task force coordinating the Superbowl security operation (joint operations center),” wrote Butts.
The City reimbursed the U.S. Bank Account from the general fund.
Brown’s complaint continues to allege retaliation and intentional infliction of stress after the mayor publicly called her assertions into question.
Brown points to September 15, 2020, where the mayor deduced she “doesn’t know the procedure for handling bad debts”.
Mayor Butts went on to call the treasurer “unqualified” and stated she was “providing misinformation” to the community.
Brown holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, and graduated from the UCLA Anderson School of Business with a Master’s in Business Education. She also studied for two years in a UCLA Doctoral Program. Before being elected treasurer, in 1987, she was an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Cal State LA, and served as an auditor with Price Waterhouse & Co.
The City has another opportunity to challenge the Second Amended Complaint by way of demurrer, so all the legal challenges are not yet fully resolved.