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Attorney general lacks evidence in case against Bell officials, defense lawyers claim

November 15, 2010 |  6:52 pm

A request by the state attorney general and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to delay a civil suit filed against current and former Bell officials indicates a lack of evidence that the city leaders plotted to loot the city treasury, the defendants’ lawyers said Monday.

Atty. Gen Jerry Brown filed suit in September alleging that former City Administrator Robert Rizzo and others conspired to drive up their salaries, inflate their pensions and conceal the cost to taxpayers.

On Friday, however, Brown filed a motion to halt action on the suit until the criminal case against former and current Bell officials is resolved. Many of the defendants in the civil case are also charged with felonies in the criminal complaint.

The motion to stay, filed in conjunction with the district attorney’s office, said that a delay would prevent defendants from seeking civil documents that could benefit their criminal cases. Waiting for     the conclusion of the criminal case would also help narrow the issues in the civil case, thereby conserving judicial resources, the motion said.

But Russell Petti, an attorney for former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, said the reasoning doesn’t make sense because Brown was aware of the criminal investigation when he filed the civil suit.

James Spertus, Rizzo’s attorney, said the request proves that Brown filed the case as a publicity stunt to aid his gubernatorial campaign. Brown was elected governor earlier this month.

"This is a red flag to the public that there’s perhaps nothing real behind the curtain. Normally the plaintiffs are the ones wanting to go forward,” said Spertus.


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-- Corina Knoll