Bell trial: Witness says Rizzo tricked her into misstating salaries
A former ranking Bell administrator who contends she was tricked into providing false information about the enormous salaries being paid to leaders of the small city will be called back to the witness stand Friday afternoon.
Lourdes Garcia, who has been granted immunity in exchange for testimony, is one of the key prosecution witnesses in its case against six former council members accused of driving up their salaries by drawing pay for serving on boards and commissions that rarely, if ever, met.
One of the commissions, the prosecution claims, was nothing more than a “sham.”
Garcia testified Thursday that former city administrator Robert Rizzo misled her when he asked her to pull together a document that showed that he and council members were earning just a fraction of their actual salaries.
The document, she said, showed that Rizzo was earning about $185,000 a year. His annual salary was actually nearly $800,000.
Garcia said the document stated that council members earned about $8,000 a year. In fact, they were earning nearly $100,000 a year for their part-time job.
"I had a bad feeling that it might be wrong, but I trusted him," Garcia testified Thursday. "I thought he wouldn’t ask me to do something wrong."
Rizzo is now charged with 69 felonies in connection with the alleged corruption in Bell, one of L.A. County’s poorest cities.
Former council members Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal could all face prison terms if convicted.
-- Ruben Vives
Photo: Lourdes Garcia at preliminary hearing in 2011. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times