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From left Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 22, 2011 in Los Angeles, California The hearing was to determine if Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo will have to stand trial on charges that they misappropriated public funds. (Photo by Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images)
A pretrial hearing is scheduled Thursday for former Bell City officials accused of misappropriating public funds.
Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, former Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former City Council members Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal, Luis Artiga, George Cole and Victor Bello were charged last September in a case accusing them of bilking taxpayers out of roughly $5.5 million through lofty salaries, benefits and illicit loans of public money.
An indictment alleges that Spaccia drafted employment contracts for herself and Rizzo that gave them both significant pay raises without the City Council's approval.
Rizzo ordered the creation of false contract dividing his salary into five parts to make it look like his salary was "much smaller than it was," according to the indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Rizzo and Spaccia falsified documents purporting to be contracts for former police Chief Randy Adams and hid documents indicating that he was being paid nearly $10,000 more per pay period.
Rizzo and other top city officials stepped down last July after the scandal was reported by the LA Times. Artiga resigned shortly after the criminal charges were filed. Hernandez, Mirabal and Jacobo were recalled from office in March.
Rizzo and Spaccia also face additional counts, including conspiracy to misappropriate public funds, conflict of interest and hiding and falsifying official records.