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Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown issues subpoenas to Vernon officials, seeks oversight of Bell

October 21, 2010 | 10:00 am

Stepping up the heat in both Bell and Vernon, California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown filed a motion seeking to force Bell to accept a court-ordered monitor and issued subpoenas to Vernon officials.

In Bell, Brown wants the monitor to oversee the city's operations and finances and ensure that the city's upcoming elections run smoothly. Three council members are facing a recall. Only one councilmember, Lorenzo Velez, has not been arrested in the corruption sweep.

"In both cities, independent scrutiny is essential in restoring public trust," Brown said in a written statement. "The public has suffered from raiders who plundered the city treasuries. The people deserve to know that the guilty individuals will be held accountable and that their tax dollars will no longer be siphoned into exorbitant salaries."

In the Vernon subpoena, Brown is seeking to obtain testimony from city officials regarding the compensation and retirement benefits given to Eric T. Fresch, former city administrator and deputy city attorney; Donal O'Callaghan, former city administrator and utilities director; and several other city officials.

The Times reported that Fresch was paid nearly $1.65 million in salary and hourly billings in 2008, when he held the dual jobs of city administrator and deputy city attorney. O'Callaghan was paid nearly $785,000 in 2009. Former City Atty. Jeffrey A. Harrison earned $800,000, and City Treasurer/Finance Director Roirdan Burnett made $570,000.

O'Callaghan was indicted Tuesday by a Los Angeles grand jury on three felony counts of conflict of interest and misappropriation of public funds.

-- Kimi Yoshino