Bell Corruption Case: Jurors who convicted Calif. mayor, councilors continue to deliberate
Bell's ex-mayor and four former City Council members were convicted of 21 counts of misappropriating public funds but found not guilty of 21 other counts. A sixth former council member was acquitted of all charges.
The convictions were the first to come after revelations more than a year ago that Bell's leadership had illegally raised taxes, business license fees and other sources of income to pay huge salaries to the city manager, police chief, City Council members and others.
Jurors, meanwhile, deadlocked on about half of the more than 80 counts prosecutors filed. They continued deliberations on those charges Thursday.
City records revealed that former city manager Robert Rizzo had an annual salary and compensation package worth $1.5 million, making him one of the highest paid administrators in the country.
His salary alone was about $800,000 a year - double that of the president of the United States.
The six former City Council members were each paid about $100,000 a year.
Former Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former Council members Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal were each convicted of five counts of misappropriating public funds. Former Councilman Victor Bello was convicted of four counts and former Councilman George Cole of two.
Prosecutors declined to say what sentences they may face until the other charges are resolved.
Former Councilman Luis Artiga was acquitted of all charges. The pastor of Bell Community Church broke down in tears and pointed heavenward as the not guilty verdicts were read.
The convictions all related to the defendants being paid for sitting on Bell's Solid Waste and Recycling Authority, an entity they could not prove had been legally established or did any work. Artiga was not on the City Council when it was created.
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