Attorneys grill third witness in Bell corruption case

Attorneys questioned a high-ranking city administrator during preliminary hearings Tuesday to determine whether eight Bell city officials should stand trial. They’re accused of scamming millions of dollars from their constituents.

Administrative services director Lourdes Garcia testified that former city manager Robert Rizzo misled her about a public records request someone had sent the department. The inquiry demanded information about the money top officials and city council members were making.

Garcia said Rizzo directed her to document only a fraction of their salaries, including his own. Garcia maintained that she didn’t put her name on the document because she didn’t feel good about providing false information.

Alfred Areyan, who lives in Bell, says Garcia’s testimony helps him understand how the city used taxpayer dollars.

“Well, right now I’m learning - it’s a learning experience just being there and listening to the people that were a part of this regime and again the truth is coming out," Areyan said outside the courtroom. "And it’s just sad that there were people in power who were that corrupt, and their intentions were corrupt, and yet they will not say they are corrupt. But again time will tell the outcome.”

The prosecution has granted immunity to Garcia. Defense attorneys, who cross-examined her for hours, say city council members worked hard and didn’t break any laws. Testimony resumes tomorrow.