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Anaheim backs former Bell city clerk despite forgery accusation

March 6, 2013 | 12:39 pm

The former Bell city clerk accused by a witness in an ongoing corruption case of forging documents in the small Los Angeles County town now works as the assistant city clerk in Anaheim.

Theresa Bass, known as Theresa Diaz when she worked in Bell, brought the allegations to the attention of Anaheim city officials the day after her predecessor testified in court that Bass had forged the minutes for City Council meetings.

“The city does not have any reason to believe Ms. Bass’ work has been anything other than professional and authentic,” Anaheim spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz wrote in an email to The Times.

FULL COVERAGE: Bell corruption trial

She said that Bass is not being investigated because of the courtroom accusations.

“Yesterday, the city of Anaheim became aware of allegations against Assistant City Clerk Theresa Bass stemming from her previous employment with the city of Bell," the city said in a Jan. 31 statement.  "Demonstrating full transparency and openness, it was Ms. Bass who brought the allegations to the attention of her supervisor."

Bass, who has worked for the city of Anaheim since 2007, declined comment.

The forgery accusation was made early during the four-week criminal trial of six former Bell council members who are accused of misappropriating public funds by paying themselves huge salaries for serving on boards that rarely met, and did little work.

Rebecca Valdez, the current city clerk in Bell, testified that she thought Bass forged her name at least eight times on council agendas in 2005 and 2006.

She testified that Bass also took the minutes at council meetings but had Valdez sign her own name to the documents, as if she had attended the sessions.

"I would always try to question her as to what I was signing, and she would get upset if I would ask her questions," Valdez testified.

Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Edward Miller said his office knew nothing about the forgery allegations until Valdez testified in late January.

Valdez was granted limited immunity in exchange for her testimony.

Valdez also testified that Bass had to give up the elected position when she moved out of town in 2004.

But Bass continued to fulfill the duties of the city clerk, although Valdez, an accounts clerk, had been appointed to the position, according to testimony.

Bass is the daughter-in-law of former Bell councilman and Vernon police chief George Bass. He was part of the City Council that hired city manager Robert Rizzo in 1993. Rizzo is now facing 69 felony counts of misappropriating and misusing city funds.

Jurors in the Bell City Council trial are in their ninth day of deliberations.

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