Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is also the Democratic candidate for governor, announced Wednesday that his office would file lawsuits against eight former Bell officials, including former city manager Robert Rizzo, "to get the money back.''
"We are filing our lawsuit on behalf of the public to recover the excess salaries that Bell officials awarded themselves and to ensure their future pensions are reduced to a reasonable amount," Brown said in a statement.
Rizzo was making nearly $800,000 per year and nearly that much in benefits, as well, before he resigned in disgrace in July after his pay package was revealed by the L.A. Times. Brown also told a TV station there also may be criminal indictments coming.
Bell's police chief Randy Adams was making $450,000 and the assistant city manager Angela Spaccia more than $375,000; both also resigned in July. Members of the City Council were making nearly $100,000 per year until giving themselves a pay cut, and they've also been named as defendants in the civil suit.
As for potential indictments, it's unclear what direction the investigation is going, but Bell made questionable business loans and business deals with Rizzo at the helm, and the Times reports this morning that he may have tried to conceal his salary from the City Council and the public.
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Brown also said he is widening his statewide probe of public salaries and benefits, and called for legislation to curb salary and pension abuses.
The broadened investigation includes a subpoena for the city of Vernon to obtain pay records there. A Vernon official was found to be making $785,000 per year. Vernon is an industrial city with a population of less than 100.
According to the release, Brown's statewide probe will focus on the many local and other government agencies that are paying more than $300,000 per year to individual employees, as well as public pensioners who are receiving annual pensions in excess of $200,000.
-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us.