Crime & Justice

5 convicted Bell leaders sue former city attorney

Former and current Bell city employees, Robert Rizzo (L), former city manager, Angela Spaccia (2L), former assistant city manager, Victor Bello (3L), former council member, and Oscar Hernandez (R), mayor, attend a bail reduction hearing on September 22, 2010 in Los Angeles.
Former and current Bell city employees, Robert Rizzo (L), former city manager, Angela Spaccia (2L), former assistant city manager, Victor Bello (3L), former council member, and Oscar Hernandez (R), mayor, attend a bail reduction hearing on September 22, 2010 in Los Angeles.
AFP POOL/AFP/Getty Images

Five former leaders of the Los Angeles suburb of Bell are suing their former city attorney for legal malpractice, saying he and his law firm led them to believe they did nothing wrong when they took large salaries to run the small, struggling municipality.

The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday. It seeks unspecified damages.

The five were convicted last year of creating a municipal agency that authorities say never did any work and existed only to inflate their salaries to about $100,000 a year.

The former City Council members say they followed the advice of attorney Edward W. Lee and his firm, Best, Best & Krieger, in all of their actions.

The law firm calls the action "frivolous" and says it will vigorously defend itself.