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Bell corruption trial: Illness forces jurors to be sent home

March 12, 2013 | 11:13 am

Bell corruption case
In the latest setback in the Bell corruption case, the judge sent jurors home Tuesday after a panel member became ill.

Jurors have now deliberated for 12 days, but a verdict has proved elusive.

The jury was forced to restart its effort five days into deliberations after the judge removed a juror for misconduct because she had done research on the Internet in violation of court orders.

CRISIS IN BELL: High salaries stir outrage

When jurors reported to court Tuesday morning, they sent a note to Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy telling her that juror No. 7 was sick. Court officials said they did not know how long the juror would be out or when deliberations will resume.

Former Bell City Council members Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal are on trial for misappropriation of public funds.

The former city leaders are charged with boosting their salaries to as much as $100,000 a year by sitting on city boards that did little work, if any.

The council members have argued that the huge salaries were the work of former City Manager Robert Rizzo and that former City Atty. Edward Lee never told them anything was wrong with their elevated paychecks.

Deliberations have dragged on long enough that this marked the second time the jury has been excused because of an illness.

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--Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Former Bell City Council members in court last month. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

 

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