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Bell city corruption trial postponed after juror calls in sick

January 28, 2013 | 10:38 am

Bell trial Jan 2013
The trial of six former Bell council members was postponed for a day Monday after an alternate juror called in sick with the flu.

Another of the six alternates was excused from the jury Friday after he learned his employer paid for only 10 days of jury service. Potential jurors usually bring up those kinds of problems when the panel is being selected. The trial is expected to last seven weeks.

"I'm very nervous and worried about losing another alternate so soon," Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said.

A mistrial may result If the total number of jurors, including alternates, falls below 12.

The sick juror, known as Alternate 5, told the court clerk she expected to be back in court Tuesday. If she's still sick, Kennedy said, she will be dismissed from the trial.

The council members -- Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal -- are accused of being paid for city board meetings that met seldom, if ever. Their pay for those meetings boosted their salaries to near $100,000 a year each for their part-time work.

City Clerk Rebecca Valdez is expected to return to the witness stand when the trial resumes. She is testifying with a grant of limited immunity.

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-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Former Bell city officials in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom last week for their corruption trial. From left are Luis Artiga, George Mirabal (partly hidden at rear), Teresa Jacobo, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez and Victor Bello. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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