California state AG Jerry Brown files lawsuits against Bell leaders [Updated]

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File photo: California Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Jerry Brown gestures during a news conference August 31, 2010 in Oakland, California. Attorney general Brown announced that law enforcement officers had arrested key members of the Nuestra Familia gang who had orchestrated crimes from inside prison using cell phones.

The California attorney general's office has filed civil lawsuits against eight former and current leaders of the tiny city of Bell, accusing them of fraud, conspiracy and wasting taxpayers money that stems for a salary scandal.

Attorney General Jerry Brown said Wednesday that the suits demand city officials, including former City Manager Robert Rizzo and three current council members, return hundreds of thousands of dollars in bloated salaries they gave themselves.

Brown's office and the Los Angeles County district attorney began investigations after it was learned that Bell had some of the highest-paid officials in the nation, even though one in six residents live in poverty.

Brown also said his investigators will look at other cities and will ask legislators to reform salary and pension practices.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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