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Bell Councilman Luis Artiga resigns [Updated]

October 4, 2010 |  2:48 pm

Artiga Bell Councilman Luis Artiga, one of the eight Bell officials arrested in a corruption sweep last month, announced Monday that he is resigning his position.

Artiga was one of four sitting council members to be arrested on charges that they misappropriated public funds by paying themselves nearly $100,000 annually for meetings that never occurred or lasted only a minute. Four other former city officials also were arrested.

Artiga, a pastor who initially viewed his first hefty city paycheck as a "gift from God," later told The Times in a tearful interview the day before his arrest, "I thought God had answered my prayers, but it was a trap from the devil." Artiga has said that he accepts blame for his actions and put too much trust in former City Administrator Robert Rizzo.

"It's in the best interest for the city of Bell that I resign," Artiga said.

He said he would not be attending Monday's council meeting.

Artiga's attorney George Mgdesyan said Artiga planned to read a statement at a 3 p.m. news conference in Sherman Oaks. Mgdesyan said Artiga needs to focus on his criminal case.

With Artiga's resignation and Councilman George Mirabal still in custody, it is unclear whether the council would have enough members present to legally hold Monday's meeting.

-- Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb

[Corrected at 3:55 p.m.: An earlier version of this post noted that Artiga needed to focus on his criminal and civil cases. Artiga was not named in the civil lawsuit filed by Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown.]

Photo: Luis Artiga. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department