Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley filed charges against eight current and former Bell officials Tuesday, alleging that they misappropriated $5.5 million in public funds. Robert Rizzo, Bell's former city manager, has been charged with 53 counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest.Also from L.A. Now:
The charges come after a dramatic morning in which authorities swept through Bell and other cities, arresting former and current Bell officials.
Among those arrested were Rizzo; Angela Spaccia, former assistant city manager; Mayor Oscar Hernandez; councilmembers George Mirabal, Teresa Jacobo and Luis Artiga; and former councilmembers George Cole and Victor Bello.
"This is corruption on steroids," Cooley said.
[Updated at 11:28 a.m.: Cooley said officials used the city's tax dollars "as their own piggy bank that they then looted at will."
He said that councilmembers, who earned salaries of nearly $100,000, received $1.2 million for "phantom meetings" -- many which never occurred or lasted only a minute or two.
Police Chief Randy Adams, who also stepped down after The Times reported he was earning $457,000, was not arrested.
"Being paid excessive amounts is not a crime," Cooley said, noting that the investigation is ongoing....MORE
California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown should quickly ask a judge to remove authority from the scandal-plagued Bell City Council and hand over management of day-to-day affairs to a court-appointed independent official, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors said Tuesday.
Such an action against an elected city council may be unprecedented and would move the state into uncharted legal territory.
The motion was approved 4-0, wth Supervisor Michael Antonovich absent.
It was written before Tuesday morning's arrest of eight current and former Bell city officials, which raised serious questions of how to effectively run the tiny, working-class city of 40,000 people in southeast Los Angeles County....MORE