Tuesday, February 8, 2011

City of Bell, CA, councilmembers looking for less time

The defense against their corruption:  "... they are elected council members not professionals."

Lawyers for six current and former Bell leaders said their clients have rejected plea deals that would have brought them two-year prison terms in exchange for admitting guilt and paying back all the money they allegedly looted from the city treasury. The news emerged Monday as the six defendants -- council members Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal, and former council members Luis Artiga, George Cole and Victor Bello -– faced the first day of a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court in the Bell corruption case....

"The case against the council members is going to be lot tougher to make than against a professional like (Robert) Rizzo (City Administrator)," (Dmitry) Gorin (a defense attorney and former deputy district attorney) said. "The council members are not involved in the day-to-day running of City Hall and rely on the staff for advice. What they have done may be reprehensible but their lawyers will argue it was not illegal. They, after all, are elected council members not professionals." Gorin said the prosecutors have to show they knew they were doing something wrong. "Rizzo by contrast had his fingers in every cake," Gorin said. "The case against him is far stronger."  Full story Los Angeles Times, 2/7/11.

The early story:  Bloomberg 7/20/10, and Fox News. 9/21/10.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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