Thursday, September 16, 2010

CA’s AG Launches the Gong Show – Sues Bell Officials

Posted By CotoBlogzz

LOS ANGELES, CA  – Yesterday, California’s Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr., announced his office is suing eight top Bell officials and council members with fraud, civil conspiracy, waste of public funds and breach of fiduciary duty, and demanded they return hundreds of thousands of dollars in unwarranted salaries. 
The  lawsuit was filed against former city manager, Robert Rizzo; former assistant city manager, Angela Spaccia; former police chief, Randy Adams; council members Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo, and George Mirabel; and former council members Victor Bello and George Cole. The suit also alleges that the defendants deliberately misled the public about the true amount of their compensation. 

The suit demands the defendants return all excessive compensation and asks the court to establish appropriate salary levels for pension purposes. Rizzo's last annual base salary was $787,638, Adams' $457,000, and Spaccia's $336,000. Bell city council members were paid $96,000 a year before they took a recent cut. Cities of similar size pay their council members $4,800 a year. 

Brown also said he is widening his statewide probe of public salaries and benefits. As part of the broadened investigation, he is serving a subpoena on the city of Vernon to obtain compensation records for city officials and employees. News articles have reported that one city official there received an annual salary of $785,000, and another received compensation totaling $1.6 million in a single year. Vernon, an industrial city near Bell, has a population of less than 100. 

Since 1993, the Bell city council raised Rizzo's salary 16 times, with an average increase of 14 percent a year. In 2005 alone, the city council raised his salary by 47 percent. Since 2003, council members also awarded themselves salary increases of 16 percent a year. 

In 2008, Rizzo had a phony memorandum prepared for public distribution that showed council members were paid $673 per month and Rizzo was paid $15,478 per month, according to the AG.  In fact, council members were actually paid $7,666 per month, and Rizzo was paid $52,325 per month. 

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