Bell's ex-city manager Robert Rizzo and the city tried to keep details about his exorbitant salary secret and told one councilman it was about half the amount he was actually paid.
Experts contacted by the Los Angeles Times say the deception could invalidate his contracts and force him to repay money he received.
Rizzo was forced to resign after residents of the working-class city of 40,000 learned he was being paid nearly $800,000 a year, plus lucrative benefits.
The Times says records and interviews show Rizzo began hiding information about his true pay in September 2008. That month, Rizzo signed five new contracts that kept his salary the same but changed the way he was paid.
Besides the city manager salary, he was being paid in chunks from a variety of city agencies.
Information from: Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.