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Bell 8: City clerk testifies she was following orders in giving out false salary information

February 10, 2011 |  3:18 pm

Rebecca Valdez in 2010. Under cross-examination, Bell's city clerk testified Thursday that that she was just following orders when she gave a resident false information about City Hall salaries.

"You knew this information was false, correct?" defense attorney Ronald Kaye asked during one exchange.

"Yes," City Clerk Rebecca Valdez testified.

"Did you tell Mr. Ramirez it was false?" Kaye asked.

"No."

"Did you go and tell the Bell police you were giving out false information?"

"No."

"Did you tell the district attorney at that time?" "No."

"So why did you give out false information?"

"Because this was the direction that I was given by my boss."

"And your boss was who?"

"Mr. Rizzo," she replied.

Valdez, who was offered limited immunity in exchange for her testimony, testified during the preliminary hearing for six former and current Bell council members accused of being paid for serving on city boards that seldom or never met.

The resident who requested the information, Roger Ramirez, had filed a public records request in 2008. The document indicates that council members received $673 a month -- about $8,000 a year – instead of the $92,000 annually they received when including salaries from city boards and commissions.

The memo also vastly underreported Rizzo’s salary. It said Rizzo was being paid $15,478 a month, or $185,736 a year. At the time, he was earning $632,700 a year, not counting the numerous weeks of vacation and sick pay he cashed out annually.

Rizzo has been charged with falsifying public records to keep his lucrative salary secret. Rizzo’s preliminary hearing could start next week. He faces more than 50 corruption charges.

RELATED:

Robert Rizzo ordered Bell salary documents falsified, city clerk testifies

--Corina Knoll

Photo: Rebecca Valdez in 2010. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

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