Prosecutors on Monday began presenting evidence in the preliminary hearing for eight current and former Bell city officials. The “Bell Eight” are charged with looting $5.5 million in city money. KPCC’s Nick Roman says the big news is word of a possible plea deal.
Prosecutors say they’ve offered this deal to the six current and former members of the Bell City Council: plead guilty to misappropriating publics funds and you’ll get a two-year prison sentence plus an order to repay what you took from the Bell city treasury.
Outside court, LA County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Lentz Snyder indicated that one or more of the defendants had asked about a plea deal, and that the DA responded with an offer. Prosecutors did not extend that offer to the two non-elected officials in the Bell scandal: former city manager Robert Rizzo and former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia.
Rizzo faces more than 50 criminal counts related to his pay and to loans he got from the city. Seven of the “Bell 8” are free on bail; the exception is former councilman Victor Bello. His attorney says Bello tipped off investigators about shenanigans in Bell nearly two years ago – and ended up facing criminal charges as a result.