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Massive corruption case going to trial

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2013 at 3:14 am •  Published: January 14, 2013
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Council members drew salaries of about $100,000 a year, which Hall said was about 20 times more than they were entitled to make.

The six defendants are expected to claim they worked hard for the city and were unaware of Rizzo's financial manipulations.

Those set to go on trial Tuesday are former Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former vice mayor Teresa Jacobo and former council members George Mirabal, George Cole, Victor Bello and Luis Artiga.,

Testimony at the trial is expected to focus on the creation of sham boards and commissions such as the city's Surplus Property Authority which met a handful of times between 2005 and 2010 and never for more than a minute or two. Hall calculated that resulted in council members being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars an hour for sitting on the authority's board.

He said the city's Solid Waste and Recycling Authority was never legally created and, in any case, met only one time in 2006 -- to vote its members a pay raise.

"It was a sham agency," said the judge.

Former District Attorney Steve Cooley, who filed the Bell corruption cases, said more than $5.5 million was taken from the city coffers.

After disclosure of the scandal, Bell residents revolted, turning out in the thousands to protest at city council meetings and ultimately staging a successful recall election at which they threw out the entire City Council and elected a slate of new leaders.