This combo made with booking photos provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department shows from top left, Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, and Oscar Hernandez; from bottom left, Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal, Robert Rizzo, and Peir'Angela Spaccia. The eight are charged with taking more than $5.5 million from the working-class suburb of Bell, Calif. in a scandal that triggered nationwide outrage and calls for more transparency in government. (AP Photo/Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)
UPDATE 5:09 p.m. Jurors in the corruption case against six former Bell city officials have been dismissed for the weekend.
The panel deliberated for about six hours Friday after prosecutors told them the officials had exploited the trust of a city to steal its money. Deputy District Attorney Ed Miller said in addition to their inflated council salaries, the officials appointed each other to commissions that did nothing and often met yearly just to increase their pay. Some made $100,000 a year and authorities have estimated that a total of $5.5 million was taken from the city coffers.
Defense lawyers argued that the officials put in more time than was required and were dedicated to helping poor and ailing residents of Bell while improving schools and public facilities.
Deliberations are set to resume Monday.
Previously: Jurors are deliberating in the corruption case against six former officials of Bell, California. The jury received the case for deliberations Friday after final arguments by a Los Angeles County prosecutor.
The former City Council members are accused of illegally giving themselves huge salaries.
Before jurors were brought in Friday morning, defense attorneys pushed for a mistrial. That’s because prosecutor Ed Miller, in his closing arguments, had brought up the issue of auditors.
But the judge had already ruled that arguments regarding the city’s audits or auditors being called to the witness stand was inadmissible because of the complexity of the issue.
“We’re not having a mini-trial on the sufficiency of the audits,” Judge Kathleen Kennedy told lawyers.
The judge denied the request for a mistrial. Instead, she directed jurors to disregard prosecutors’ statements regarding audits.
In his rebuttal, prosecutor Miller implored jurors not to acquit city council members just because they may be “nice people.”
The prosecutor concluded his final argument by telling jurors that the defendants want to fool them the same way they fooled the people of Bell.
If convicted, the defendants face sentences ranging from 11 to 20 years in prison.
The former city manager and his assistant will be tried later.
— Corey Moore with AP
This story has been updated.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated when the jury received the case.