Bell police come under fire in Bell corruption hearing

From left Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 22, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
From left Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 22, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images

As testimony continues in the preliminary hearing for several city of Bell officials, the city’s police department is fielding harsh criticism.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations that Bell city police officers tried to drum up revenue for the city by getting tough with motorists. The L.A. Times reports there are claims the police department encouraged officers to go after drivers as much as they could through traffic tickets.

Meantime, defense attorneys continued their questioning in the second round of preliminary hearings involving several Bell officials charged with public corruption. The administrative services director took the stand and testified that top former city manager Robert Rizzo approved raises for his assistant city manager and others.

She also testified Rizzo authorized all employment contracts – and not the City Council – after Bell became a charter city about five years ago.

Defense attorneys asked the administrative services director more about the so-called loan-program Rizzo ran that let more than 40 city employees borrow money from the city.

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