Bell Official: False Information Compiled to Hide Pay

The city's administrative services director says it started with a resident who wanted to know how much Bell officials were paid

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    From left, Luis Artiga, George Cole, Teresa Jacobo, Oscar Hernandez and George Mirabal listen during a preliminary hearing on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 in Los Angeles. Eight current and former officials with the city of Bell, including the mayor, vice mayor and former city manager , are named in dozens of counts of misappropriation of public funds in a scandal that District Attorney Steve Cooley described as "corruption on steroids" on the day they were taken from their homes in handcuffs last September. (AP Photo/Mark Boster, Pool)

    Bell's administrative services director said Tuesday that she was directed to compile false information about how much city officials were paid.

    At whose request was that information compiled?

    Lourdes Garcia said it was former City Manager Robert Rizzo who made the request.

    Garcia testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing to determine if six current and former Bell City Council members should proceed to trial on similar charges. Rizzo, 57, and former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia, 52, are awaiting a separate hearing -- which could begin this week -- to determine if there is enough evidence to require them to stand trial on felony charges alleging they misappropriated public funds.

    Court Documents: Bell City Officials Talked of "Getting Fat" by "Taking All of Bell's Money"

    [LA] Court Documents: Bell City Officials Talked of "Getting Fat" by "Taking All of Bell's Money"
    Public corruption cases against eight former Bell city officials will feature email transcripts where the suspects talked about being "pigs" but not "hogs". One Defense Attorney says it's not like it sounds. (Published Monday, Feb 14, 2011)

    Garcia said she compiled false information that was given to a resident who had demanded to know how much city officials were paid. She said she felt uncomfortable because she knew the figures she provided reflected only a fraction of what Rizzo and other top officials were paid.

    Garcia has been granted immunity by prosecutors. The Times reported that Garcia earned about $422,000.

    Her testimony came one day after prosecutors filed court papers Monday citing e-mail correspondence involving the city officials. In one e-mail exchange, Spaccia wrote that "we have crafted our agreements carefully so we do not draw attention to our pay" and another saying "we will all get fat together."

    Last week, the only current City Council member not criminally charged as a result of the public corruption probe testified that Rizzo virtually ruled the small blue-collar city in southeast Los Angeles County.

    The Bell Eight were arrested Sept. 21 on allegations that they bilked taxpayers out of roughly $5.5 million through hefty salaries, benefits and illicit loans of public money. Rizzo and other top city officials stepped down last July after the salary scandal broke.

    The City Council members, who were earning almost $100,000 a year, significantly slashed their pay, but most balked at calls for their resignations.