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Bell corruption trial: Judge says a verdict seems close

March 8, 2013 | 10:56 am

As the jury in the Bell corruption case began its 11th day of deliberations, the judge said Friday she's encouraged that a verdict is close.

“I think we may hear something more from the jury today," Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said. "Fridays are really good days for verdicts.”

Kennedy made her comments with the jury out of the courtroom.

Jurors had sent her a note Thursday asking for a legal explanation, and she had brought them into court Friday to give an answer.

CRISIS IN BELL: High salaries stir outrage

Not long after jurors went back to their deliberations, they sent the judge another note. The note asked whether members of the Bell Community Housing Authority could be paid only for meetings or whether they also could be paid for other duties.

State law says housing authority members can be paid $50 a meeting for up to four meetings a month.

The note said, "...because it does not state that they could only get paid for attending meetings, there remains doubt as to whether they could receive additional for other work without breaking this law.”

Defense attorneys have argued that their clients could receive additional compensation for work outside meetings.

Former council members Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal are charged with boosting their salaries, which were as high as $100,000 a year, by drawing pay from serving on city boards and authorities that did little, if any work.

Shepard Kopp, one of the defense attorneys, jokingly told the judge that she should tell jurors that if they had doubt, then they should acquit.

The judge answered:"Should I send a glove in there," a reference to the O.J. Simpson case, whose judge, Lance Ito, presides in an adjacent courtroom.


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 -- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Former Bell city council members in court. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times