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Bell 8: Two-year prison deals offered to former and current council members in corruption case

February 7, 2011 |  2:40 pm

Six current and former council members in Bell have been offered two-year prison sentences in exchange for pleading guilty and paying back all the money they are alleged to have misappropriated from the city treasury, an attorney for one of the former councilmen said.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office confirmed Monday that plea deals were extended but declined to provide specifics.

The two-year prison deals were not extended to the city’s former administrators, Robert Rizzo and Angela Spaccia.

One of the former council members, Luis Artiga, rejected the offer, said George G. Mgdesyan, his attorney.

Mgdesyan said identical offers were also extended to Mayor Oscar Hernandez, council members Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal and former councilmen George Cole and Victor Bello. Cole’s attorney, however, said he knew nothing about a plea deal.

Disclosures of the plea offers came before the beginning of a preliminary hearing in which a judge will determine whether there is enough evidence to order the former and current city leaders to stand trial for public corruption.

The hearing was scheduled to get underway at 1:30 p.m. but was delayed.

There are to be three separate hearings, one after the other, said Jennifer Lentz Snyder, head deputy of the district attorney's public integrity division.

The charges were filed after a series of articles by The Times detailing the high salaries of Bell city officials and the activities of Rizzo, the city's longtime chief administrative officer.


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-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Seven of the the eight city officials from the city of Bell and their attorneys face the judge in LA. County Superior Court on Monday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times