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Bell corruption: Judge rules not to delay state attorney general's lawsuit

December 13, 2010 | 11:08 am

A Los Angeles County Superior judge denied a request Monday by the state to delay its lawsuit against current and former Bell officials because it could interfere with L.A. County's criminal cases against the troubled city's current and former leaders.

Judge Ralph Dau rebuffed efforts by lawyers for Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the L.A. County district attorney and the city of Bell to delay much of the lawsuit until criminal charges against eight current and former city officials is resolved.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jennifer Benz Snyder argued the potential existed for civil discovery to affect the criminal case, which is focused on allegations of misappropriation of public funds.

She said prosecutors are pursuing ongoing investigations, and an employee of the city could disclose that work or reveal potential secret grand jury proceedings under questioning. She said prosecutors do not want to show all their cards.

Dau told Benz Snyder she needed to talk to the attorney general's office and tell them, "Why don't you back off and dismiss this case?" The attorney general's lawyers "have the key in their pocket," he added.

State lawyers said they would consider appealing the ruling once it is issued in writing.

The ruling represented a victory for the defendants, including former city manager Robert Rizzo and Mayor Oscar Hernandez, who have accused Gov.-elect Brown in the run-up to the November election of "political grandstanding."

In a court filing opposing the request, Hernandez accused Brown and L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who was running to become state attorney general, of refusing to dismiss their cases because it would show they were brought for political purposes.

"The present motion is an admission by the plaintiff that this action was brought in bad faith and the court should not brook such cynical tactics," wrote Hernandez's attorney, Stanley Friedman.


The Times' complete coverage of the Bell salary scandal

Bell auditing firm hires outside accountant to review its work

Judge sets February date for Bell corruption hearing

-- Richard Winton