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Six former Bell council members want corruption charges dismissed

Bell city officials
Six former Bell council members will head to court Wednesday morning to ask that a judge dismiss corruption charges against them.

The former city officials contend that voters approved a ballot measure making Bell a charter city, giving them authority to collect salaries of nearly $100,000.

Two former city administrators, Robert Rizzo and Angela Spaccia, also face corruption charges.

The defense must convince Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall, who presided over their preliminary hearing. At the time, Hall suggested that prosecutors charge them with additional crimes.

"The allegations are, in my opinion, appalling," Hall said at the time. "These people may not be involved in the running of that city in any shape or form."

He ordered the city officials –- three of whom were still serving on the City Council -– to stay away from City Hall.

Ronald Kaye, attorney for former Councilman George Cole, said his client and the other elected officials should not be tainted by the alleged criminal acts of others.

"This is unprecedented in the history of California," Kaye said in an interview. "Nobody has ever done this, to try to prosecute somebody for making too much money on their salary. You kick these guys out of office if you think they make too much money. You don't prosecute them."

The former council members made most of their salaries not as council members, but for sitting on four city boards that prosecutors say seldom or never met.

Prosecutors said they are charged with paying themselves illegal salaries for no work.

RELATED:

Bell defense attorneys express concern about judge

Bell judge refuses call to step down in corruption hearing

6 Bell officials ordered to stand trial for looting city treasury

-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Several Bell city officials, including former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo, second from left, appear during a court hearing earlier this year. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

 
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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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