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3 accused Bell officials want cash-strapped city to pay their legal bills

Three present and former Bell City Council members charged with public corruption are asking a judge to order the city to pay some of their legal bills.

Attorneys for Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo and former Councilman George Cole in court filings argue that the city should cover their legal expenses in a suit filed last year by the California attorney general's office.

Jacobo and Cole also want the city to pay their legal bills in a criminal prosecution by the L.A. County district attorney.

The legal papers were filed by lawyers for the trio in response to the attorney general's lawsuit. The current and former council members' lawyers insist that despite claims their clients took large salaries for little or no work, they did nothing legally wrong and are entitled to have Bell cover the costs.

The effort to get the city to foot the bills comes as state auditors have indicated the city's expenses are already outrunning its income, leaving Bell little alternative but to cut services and employees.

In a cross complaint filed last week, Jennifer Derwin, Jacobo's attorney, wrote that her client "is entitled to indemnification because all of the acts alleged in the civil case and criminal case occurred during the discharge of cross complainant’s duties or occurred from cross complainant’s obedience to the direction of the city, which was [her] employer.”

Jacobo became the latest elected official in the city to seek the court's help. Cole’s attorney, Ronald Kaye, in a motion filed late last month seeking relief, noted his client did nothing wrong while on the council.

“At the time of obeying the city of Bell’s directions and carrying out his duties, Mr. Cole did not believe that his actions were unlawful,” Kaye wrote.

Jacobo, 52, Cole, 60, and Hernandez, 63, along with former City Administrator Robert Rizzo, 56, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, 52, City Councilman George Mirabal, 60, and former council members Luis Artiga, 49, and Victor Bello, 51, are charged with misappropriating public funds. The council members are accused of earning about $100,000 annually for meetings that did not occur or lasted only a few minutes.

An audit released last week said Bell was on the brink of bankruptcy.

RELATED:

Bell's finances so bad city could have trouble providing basic services

Suggestion to cut police department to stay solvent prompts political fight in Bell

Bell's auditors should have spotted most of the alleged corruption, state controller finds

-- Richard Winton

 
Comments () | Archives (35)

OMG!! This is just completely unbelievable. So they rob the city blind, now they want the same city to pay to defend them for their crimes? Really?? Seriously?? Un-freakin' believable. Seriously, I am just stunned... The only way I could be any more stunned by this story is if they actually do find a loophole that would not only allow it but force the city to pay for their defense.

This one one should be at the top!!

Monday on Fox news they learned that the staffers of Congress family members are exempt from having to pay back student loans. This will get national attention if other news networks will broadcast it. When you add this to the below, just where will all of it stop?

35 States file lawsuit against the Federal Government

Governors of 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50)
States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

WE WANT YOU TO PAY US FOR ROBBING YOU!!!!

Wow, do they have guts!! This is right up there with killing your parents and asking for mercy because you are an orphan!!! Actually a better analogy would be robbing a bank and asking the bank to pay for defense attorney!!!

Just when you thought they had no integrity. Why are they still in office? True scum of the earth.

Boy what a pair !

Now that's chutzpah!

This cant be real..What the heck? Cole's Oldtimer's Foundation is still receiving $38k per month from Bell on the rigged Dial-A-Ride contract

Why do they think the taxes payers should pay for their legal fees? We didn't tell them to steal. That was their own choice. What ales do they want??? Let them pay back what the robbed from the Great State of California. They not only took from Bell, they robbed the whole State of California. What ever happened to Randy, the Chief of Police. Did he get away with murder also? Greed......Greed.....Greed Why so much Greed????? Who do they want to impress?

It is not surprising in the least that Bell officials would expect the City to pick up the tab for their legal defense. After all, that's exactly what happened in Cudahy and South Gate. Corrupt politicians came under criminal investigations in those cities, and the taxpayers paid $1.5 million in legal fees to personally defend the officials. [Btw, they walked!]

See examiner article on the Cudahy case:

http://www.examiner.com/financial-fraud-in-los-angeles/city-of-cudahy-government-fraud-case-on-track-for-april-trial

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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