AirTalk for March 20, 2013

Jury reaches verdict in Bell trial

Closing Arguments Under Way In Corruption Trial Of Bell City Officials

Pool/Getty Images

Former Bell council members Luis Artiga, left, Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal, George Cole and former Mayor Oscar Hernandez stand in respect of jury as closing arguments session breaks for lunch on February 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

The jury has reached a verdict in the Bell trial, where six former elected officials in Bell have been accused of abusing public funds by giving themselves high salaries. Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal were found guilty on various counts, but Luis Artiga was found not guilty on all counts. 

An audit revealed that the city illegally raised taxes and other fees to fund their own bank accounts. Former city manager Robert Rizzo had an annual salary and compensation package worth $1.5 million, reported the Associated Press. During the trial, witnesses testified that Rizzo convinced other city officials that they deserved high salaries and manipulated them to sign major financial documents. The former Bell officials said that their salaries were deserved.

The jury has been deliberating since February 28, but the trial had to restart when a juror was dismissed for misconduct on the fifth day.

Guest:
Corey Moore, KPCC reporter at the courthouse


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