Bell trial: Councilman not charged unaware of others' high pay
Lorenzo Velez, the lone member of the Bell City Council not facing criminal charges, will resume his testimony on Wednesday in the corruption trial for six former officials accused of looting the city.
Velez received one of the smallest paychecks from the city and was paid $310 biweekly since being appointed in October 2009. The other council members were earning about $100,000 a year from authorities that rarely met and did little or no work.
"In June 2010, was there a story in the L.A. Times about City Council salaries?" Miller asked Velez.
"Yes there was."
"Before that did you have any knowledge that other council members might be making salaries larger than yours?"
"No I did not."
Velez testified that he didn't even realize the council position was paid until he received his first paycheck. He said that former City Administrator Robert Rizzo told him the money was a stipend for expenses he might incur. Earlier testimony has revealed that Rizzo instructed the city clerk to prepare Velez's salary contract to be a fraction of his colleagues' pay.
Former council members Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal are all facing multiple counts of misusing public funds.
-- Corina Knoll
Photo: Lorenzo Velez testifies during a preliminary hearing in February 2011. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times