Manager Says SoCal County Went After Her

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – After spending $100,000 of taxpayer money on his own education, the Riverside County auditor-controller demoted an official he blamed for talking about it, the former fiscal manager claims in court.
     Marla Pendleton sued Riverside County on June 15 in Superior Court. The county itself is the only defendant, though the complaint identifies the officials Pendleton accuses of retaliating against her.
     Riverside County, pop. 2.2 million, just north of San Diego County, is the fourth-largest by population in California and the 11th largest in the United States.
     Pendleton still works for the county, but says she was demoted and her pay was cut by $4 an hour after anonymous emails were circulated among county employees, accusing “executive management” of “illegal activity.”
     The first email, of June 24, 2104, “accused Auditor Controller Paul Angulo of spending over $100,000 on personal Harvard and Berkley [sic] training at taxpayers’ expense,” according to the complaint.
     It also accused Angulo of spending more than $50,000 of tax money to pay for graduate school training “for Frankie Ezzat and another management level employee” but of refusing to pay for such training for other employees.
     The “perceived illegal activity of misappropriating, deceit, and or concealing the use of government funds by a county executive became personal to Mr. Angulo and Ms. Ezzat, who were “concerned about the source of the email,” Pendleton says.
     She claims that Ezzat and other managers suspected her of being the source of the emails, as she had access to the information in them, whereupon she was demoted, with a pay cut, and given a job “without any work responsibilities for approximately five months and stripped of all system access.”
     She seeks compensatory and special damages for retaliation in violation of the Labor Code.
     Riverside County officials and Pendleton’s attorney, Ritchie Lewis of Rancho Cucamonga, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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