LA Times: At Least Eight Bell City Officials Arrested Today After Salary Scandal

September 21, 2010 8:54 am

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that at least eight city officials from Bell, California, have been arrested today, with L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley set to announce criminal charges related to the officials inflating their salaries.

Some City Council members in the working class California community were allegedly pulling in $96,000 a year for part-time elected positions, amounting to 20 times the national average for similar positions. Former City Manager Robert Rizzo, who was reportedly among those arrested, banked nearly $800,000 a year. The DA expanded the probe in July to include allegations of voter fraud and possible conflicts of interest involving city businesses.A press conference today will reportedly detail the charges.

The council members allegedly built up their salaries by accruing stipends for serving on city commissions. Some of the commissions would reportedly hold meetings for just a few minutes a month, or in tandem with other meetings.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown, who in July subpoenaed documents from the city going back to 2003, filed a civil lawsuit last week against eight city officials, demanding that they step down from their positions and reimburse the city for the inflated pay.

Late Update: Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley announced charges against the eight officials who were arrested today, calling the inflated salaries “corruption on steroids.” Rizzo was charged with 53 counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest.

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