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Bell attorney quits law firm; firm ends contract with Bell amid salary scandal [Updated]

August 2, 2010 |  4:44 pm

Bell's controversial city attorney -- who was dumped last week by the city of Downey for his connection to the scandal-ridden town -- announced Monday that he is leaving his firm to focus on helping Bell through its crisis.

Edward Lee had been a partner at Best, Best & Krieger since 2006 and Bell's contract city attorney since the 1990s. The firm issued a statement Monday saying that Lee would be leaving Best, Best & Krieger. The firm also announced that it would be ending its contract with Bell, but would assist in the transition.

[Updated at 7:07 p.m.: On Monday evening Marco Martinez, a partner with Best Best & Krieger, announced at the Maywood City Council meeting that Lee had resigned from his position as Maywood's city attorney.]

"Given the current situation in Bell, I cannot allow the lives of the great attorneys and support people who work at Best Best & Krieger to be affected by it, not to mention the many great clients of the firm," Lee said in a statement. "I am confident that my reputation will be restored in time, as events unfold."

Last week the Downey City Council voted 3-2 to terminate the city's contract with Lee and Best, Best & Krieger. City leaders said they no longer felt comfortable being associated with the attorney.

Downey officials said they had become disenchanted with Lee's involvement in the Bell salary controversy, which Councilman Mario Guerra called one of the "most egregious breaches of fiduciary responsibilities in the history of our state."

As Bell's city attorney, Lee signed off on contracts that paid top administrators some of the highest salaries for their positions in the nation. City Manager Robert Rizzo was paid nearly $800,000 a year; Police Chief Randy Adams, $457,000; and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, $376,288.

For The Times' complete coverage, visit www.latimes.com/Bell.

-- Kimi Yoshino