Local News

Trial Begins in Bell Corruption Scandal

BELL, Calif. (KTLA) — It’s been called a case of “corruption on steroids,” and now six former officials in the city of Bell are facing a judge and jury.

And the tale of big, big salaries for small-town government jobs has become a battle cry for reform and reviews of city bookkeeping, everywhere.

Prosecutors say the former Bell City Council members were paid for attending various board meetings, which hardly ever took place.

According to reports, they each earned more than $100,000 a year for part-time jobs. Prosecutors say the legal annual salary is more like $8,000.

All of this was happening, investigators say, in a city that covers only 2.5 square miles and claims about 35,000 residents.

Jurors heard opening statements Thursday.

Prosecutor Ed Miller used the term, “sham government.”

The man at the center of the scandal, former Bell city administrator Robert Rizzo, pulled in $1.5 million per year, according to reports.

He’s accused of illegally ballooning his own salary, pension and benefits.

Attorneys for the current defendants basically say these clients were dedicated civil servants who trusted Rizzo and ultimately became his victims.

– Chris Wolfe, KTLA News