The jury in the corruption trial of six ex-city leaders of Bell found former Mayor Oscar Hernandez and ex-council members Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal, Victor Bello, and George Cole guilty of misappropriation of public funds today. Former Councilman Luis Artiga was found not guilty on all counts.
The six were accused of padding their salaries, which amounted to six figures, by taking payment for sitting on do-nothing city boards:
The case of corruption in the city of Bell is that rare story in journalism that actually ends like an episode of "Law & Order."
The bad guys wound up in handcuffs, justice prevailed and ... wait a sec. What ever happened to Randy Adams?
Bell's former police chief earned an astonishing $457,000 a year, and seems to have gone to some trouble to conceal that fact. (Of course, that made him only the second-highest paid person in the city, behind this guy.) Plus, there was his pre-approved disability pension. So: surely he's been locked up by now?
Turns out, no. And as the L.A. Times reports, even the judge in the case is wondering why.
Could it have anything to do with the fact that Adams ran in the same law enforcement circles as D.A. Steve Cooley?
Cities don't come more opposite than Bell and Beverly Hills.
The former is 90 percent Latino, with an average household income of $30,000 per year. Its city government is drowning in an impossible pile of debt, and residents are still feeling the hurt of corrupt policing and fines after barely surviving one of California's biggest public-salary scandal ever.
Beverly Hills, on the other hand, is world-famous for its stability:
Unsurprisingly, Robert Rizzo, the slimy Bell politician who was (allegedly; LOL) paying himself $800,000 per year with a $1 million pension, didn't think it wise to live among his duped constituents. So he settled for a $1.13 million mansion in Huntington Beach circa June 2007 -- no doubt comped by taxpayers -- where he could float his lardy ratlike corpse in a lavish granite tub and scheme up some more evils on the backs of the citizens. Muahaha...
The L.A. Times is celebrating its well deserved Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the scandal in the City of Bell.
But amid the accolades, it's worth taking a moment to recognize someone without whom the scandal would not have been uncovered: the courageous and (allegedly) corrupt councilman, Victor Bello.
As California Watch detailed last fall, it was Bello's letters to the District Attorney's office in 2009 that sparked the investigation. Long before the scandal broke into public view, Bello wrote that the city had been "victimized by mismanagement, illegal activity and corruption."
And it was a tip from the D.A.'s office that led the Times to break the Bell story. No Bello, no Bell scandal. And probably, no Pulitzer. The biggest irony of all is that so far no one has served more time in jail for the Bell scandal than Victor Bello.
We told you he was going for the gig, and he got it.
On Monday night Bell's new City Council elected Ali Saleh as mayor.
In a town that's overwhelmingly Latino, with allegations of corruption levied at former officials who were white and Latino, the newcomers installed a real outsider.
Well, actually ...
After nearly a year of political upheaval and scandal, the little urban city of Bell will see a whole new City Council take charge this week.
The "installation" of city's new council happens at 7 p.m. tonight at the Bell Community Center, 6250 Pine Ave. Yes, you're invited.
That's because ...
A new wave of reform for the scandalized city of Bell took a tragic turn over the weekend when a well-liked City Council candidate, Miguel Alejandro Sanchez, died.
His brother says it might have been the Swine Flu that killed him. Sanchez was hospitalized Friday morning and dead by the afternoon.
On Sunday night supporters held a vigil for the 34-year-old. The city will elect new council members Tuesday.
Robert Rizzo, the rotund figure at the center of the Bell salary scandal, was supposed to be in court Wednesday for a hearing on misappropriation of public funds charges against him.
Instead, he ended up in an ambulance.
The defendant, who reportedly made as much as $1.5 million in salary and other compensation as the small, Latino municipality's city manager, apparently complained of chest pains.
We found out long ago that Bell's Big Eight -- the shameless crew of elected officials who smuggled millions from a small town on the southeast edge of L.A. County -- were fat pigs, but it's a new kind of satisfaction to hear it straight from their own scuzzy snouts in a sterile Los Angeles Superior Courtroom.
Well, from the mouths of prosecutors reading from slimy city e-mails, but still. Today's quotes from the trial are some of the best yet, with the possible exception of...