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Bell's future leaders cheer indictments in city's corruption case

March 30, 2011 |  6:15 pm

Click to read the Bell grand jury indictment Newly elected council members in financially battered Bell cheered the latest round of criminal charges brought against the city’s former top administrators, who are accused of looting the working-class city and leaving it on the edge of insolvency.

“The more charges the better,” said Danny Harber, one of five people elected earlier this month in a complete makeover of the City Council. “I just hope everyone of them stick."

DOCUMENT: Read the indictment

Nestor Valencia, another election day winner, said he viewed the indictment of former City Administrator Robert Rizzo and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia as “good news.”

“But we want a bigger probe,” said Valencia, who suggested federal investigators consider a racketeering probe.

The indictment adds eight charges to the sweeping public corruption case against Rizzo, Spaccia and six current and former Bell officials.

While the earlier charges focused on the lavish salaries paid to top Bell officials, the new indictments look at Rizzo and Spaccia’s attempts to manipulate state pension rules to push their retirement compensation well beyond accepted levels.

All eight have pleaded not guilty to the charges and remain free on bail.

One of the city’s freshly elected council members took a more measured view of a scandal that resulted in a complete house-cleaning of the City Council.

"It is not surprising, but nonetheless disturbing, to find out the extent of Robert Rizzo's abuse of Bell taxpayer dollars. That's the bad news,” said Ali Saleh.

“The good news is that there is a clear consensus of new City Council members that we will quickly institute good government reforms to ensure those abuses will never happen again."

The new council members are expected to be sworn in next month.

-- Ruben Vives