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Judge sets February date for Bell corruption hearing

December 8, 2010 | 11:54 am

A judge will decide in February whether eight current and former Bell city officials charged with misappropriating $5.5 million in public funds should stand trial.

Judge Hilleri Merritt set Feb.7 as the earliest date for a preliminary hearing on the slew of charges, including 53 counts against former City Administrator Robert Rizzo, 56, whose nearly $800,000 salary ignited a furor over public pay and pensions across California.

Others who face a variety of public corruption charges are Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, city councilmembers George Mirabal and Teresa Jacobo and former councilmen Luis Artiga, George Cole and Victor Bello, and former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia.

The city councilmembers were being paid nearly $100,000 a year each for attending short or nonexistent meetings. All but Bello are free on bail.

Despite the charges, Hernandez, Jacobo and Mirabel continue to attend council meetings. This week a judge refused a request from the state attorney general to appoint a monitor to oversee the city.


The Times' complete coverage of the Bell salary scandal

Dig deeper: Report of Bell interim city administrator's first 100 days

L.A. judge rejects putting court-appointed monitor in charge of Bell

-- Richard Winton at L.A. County Superior Court