After eight current and former Bell city officials charged with misappropriating $5.5 million in public funds were arrested Tuesday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and booked into the Los Angeles County Jail system, five of them remain behind bars, as of press time.
Former City Manager Robert Rizzo, whose almost $800,000 salary has inflamed an uproar across the state over public pay and pensions, was charged with 53 counts of misappropriating public funds and conflict of interest, allegedly swindling the city of Bell out of $4.3 million. At press time, Rizzo was still in jail.
Of the council members who were being paid nearly $100,000 a year for their part-time jobs in a city with a population of only about 40,000, George Mirabal and former Councilmember Victor Bello remain behind bars. Teresa Jacobo was released on $260,000 bail, and Luis Artiga was discharged on $120,000 bail. Former councilmember George Cole was also out on bail, but his bail amount had not been announced. Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia were also arrested and remain in custody.
The arrested officials were classified as “keep-away status” in the county jail system. “They will be separated from the general population of inmates, as we would do with any high-profile inmate,” said Captain Mike Parker of the LA County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau, in a statement emailed Tuesday. “This is done for the safety and security of the entire jail environment. The two female inmates were booked into the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, while the male inmates were booked in at the downtown Los Angeles Inmate Reception Center.”