OAKLAND, CALIF. (CN) – The City of Oakland fired its controller to retaliate for her reports of City Administrator Deborah Edgerly’s illegal payroll practices, including double dipping, paying ghost workers and nepotism, Larae Brown claims in San Francisco Federal Court.
Brown says she found out in 2006 that the city’s cash balance had been overstated by $172 million, that 77 of 111 funds were in the red, and that the city was spending restricted bond money illegally.
She says she reported this to city Treasurer Bill Noland, who told her “that he had taken up her concerns to Edgerly and that Edgerly would neither act to correct the matters reported by Brown, nor would she permit the Oakland City Council to be so informed. The City Budget Director confirmed that the report of Edgerly’s response to Noland was accurate.”
Brown says she also complained that city police officers were being paid for days they didn’t work, paid for vacation and work on the same days, and that officers on workers comp were also getting holiday pay.
In response, she says, Police Chief Wayne Tucker told her that Edgerly would not allow her to send out a memo correcting this, and would not correct the illegal double dipping.
She claims she was not allowed to stop the overpayment of more than 22,000 hours of unearned overtime to city workers who also collected vacation pay for those hours.
She claims Edgerly approved $10,000 bonus checks to herself and Noland without approval from the mayor or City Council. And she claims that Edgerly had relatives on the payroll who were paid though they did not show up for work.
After that complaint, Brown says, “access to the payroll system was taken from Brown and her staff, preventing Brown from investigating and reconciling anomalies in City’s payroll accounts.”
Brown says she presented these complaints to City Auditor Courtney Ruby, who hired an outside auditor to investigate. Two days later, she says, Edgerly fired her, through Noland. She says she was fired “in reprisal for her complaint to the city auditor about Edgerly’s malfeasance.”
She demands $5 million in compensatory damages, and punitive damages. She is represented by John Burris of Oakland.