Ex-Bell City Council Members Accept Plea Agreement

The disgraced former city leaders were convicted on several corruption charges, but were awaiting a retrial on other counts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    A display of pictures of current and former City of Bell council members who were arrested on corruption charges is seen following a news conference on September 21, 2010 in Los Angeles.

    Former council members accused in a city government corruption scandal in a community south of downtown Los Angeles accepted a plea deal offered by the district attorney's office.

    The five former Bell City Council members are expected to have their prison terms capped at four years, according to the agreement offered earlier this year.

    The former city leaders -- George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo, Victor Bello and George Mirabal -- were convicted at an earlier trial, but faced a re-trial on corruption charges. They faced a deadline this month to decide on the agreement.

    The ex-council members admitted earning up to $100,000 annuall for serving on municipal boards that never met or did little work. They agreed to pay restitution to the city, but the amount has not been determined.

    They were facing up to eight years in state prison if they did not accept the plea offer.

    The development comes about three months after the man who became the face of the scandal pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges. Robert Rizzo, 60, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and filing a false federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service.

    The former Bell city manager faces a maximum of eight years in federal prison, plus restitution, fines and  penalties.

    Angela Spaccia, Bell's former assistant city administrator and Rizzo's  second-in-command, was convicted in state court of 11 felonies for conspiring  to misappropriate public funds and looting the working-class city's coffers  through exorbitant salaries and personal loans of taxpayer money.