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Bell residents say 'justice at last' after lawsuit filed against city officials

September 15, 2010 |  2:29 pm

Bell residents cheered the announcement Wednesday that state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown had filed a lawsuit against eight top city officials, calling it a day of justice for residents.

"Justice at last," resident Ludibina Hernandez said. "They stole from the city and went past the definition of abuse. The officials need to pay for everything they stole."

Activist Carmen Bella, 76, agreed, saying it is justice "especially for those people who lost their jobs and had to pay high taxes, and to those who may have lost their homes as a result of that."

"This is all very moving," she added.

Earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado signed into law a bill that will refund $2.9 million to Bell property owners who paid an illegal tax the last three years to cover rising pension costs. Until it was rescinded, Bell's property taxes were the second-highest among Los Angeles County's 88 cities.

Meanwhile, most of those named in the lawsuit declined comment or could not be reached.

Attorney Jim Spertus, who represents former City Manager Robert Rizzo, questioned the timing of Brown's lawsuit, which comes amid a tight governor's race.

"At this particular point in the election cycle, it doesn't surprise me that charges have been filed," Spertus said.

The lawsuit names Rizzo, former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, former police chief Randy Adams, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, council members Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabel and former council members Victor Bello and George Cole.

Bello declined comment and others did not immediately return calls.

-- Ruben Vives in Bell