Bell official says false salary figures released

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Former Bell city employees (left to right) Robert Rizzo, Angela Spaccia, Victor Bello and Oscar Hernandez attend a bail reduction hearing on Sept. 22, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Testimony wraps up today in the first week of the preliminary hearing for the Bell Eight. They're charged with misusing city money. Prosecutors want a judge to order a trial for the eight current and former Bell city officials.

The prosecution questioned Bell City Clerk Rebecca Valdez about minutes she took at City Council and authority meetings. Valdez admitted she didn’t understand the functions of governing committees that Council members used to pay their high salaries.

She spoke of handling personnel forms that indicated the high dollars council members were making except one, who was paid just over $600 a month.

The prosecutor asked Valdez about an official public records act request someone sent the department that asked what City Council members were paid.

In processing the request, the clerk said former top administrator Robert Rizzo told her to reveal what officials were making only for their Council service, which is $150 a month.

Defense attorneys are cross-examining Valdez this afternoon.

More from the Associated Press:

The clerk for the scandal-ridden city of Bell says she provided false information to a resident of the Los Angeles suburb who had filed a public records request demanding to know what the city manager and City Council members were paid.

Bell City Clerk Rebecca Valdez testified Thursday that she reported every City Council member was paid $673 a month when she knew they were paid more than 10 times that much.

Valdez says Bell's disgraced former city manager, Robert Rizzo, came up with the false figures and ordered to her to provide them. She says he also falsified his own salary.

Valdez is testifying at a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for six current and former City Council members to stand trial on fraud charges.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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