Pretrial Hearing Scheduled for Former Bell Officials

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.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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