City of Bell

There’s a small city near here called Bell .   Maybe you’ve heard of it .  It’s been in the papers for corruption . Rizzo ?   Does the name ring a bell ? ( sorry ! )  Councilmen were being paid $ 100,000  for part time positions . They were being paid for committee work on committees that never met . Bell is a working class city of 36,000 . The former  city manager , Rizzo , was making a salary of about $ 800,000 per year . Not bad work if you can get it ! He goes on trial later .

Justice_statueFive of six former Bell officials were convicted yesterday of misappropriation of public funds . The one city councilman who was acquitted claimed ignorance of the ongoing graft . A reporter had asked him last year , as revelations  the corruption unfolded ,  if he ever wondered where the stream of $ 8000  checks he used to receive for no apparent reason were coming from .   ” I thought it was a gift from God ,”  he said .

Misappropriation of funds ?  I worked with a school administrator who  eventually stood trial for misappropriation of funds . He struck a bargain with the D. A. and admitted to ” misappropriating”  $45,ooo   of middle school money . Instead of going to the school , the funds went , instead , to shoes for this guy’s  kids ,  barbeques for his home , a futon for his condo in Hawaii .  Those are the items I heard about .  At the time  I knew people with some inside information . Nothing came out in the papers as the potential  scandal was unfolding . I kept waiting  in vain for publicity of the crime . I heard that he had actually stolen  about $ 350,000 of school funds   over a few- year period . He was Assistant Principal and oversaw the school’s budgets . The Principal didn’t notice ?  Both he and the ‘ see-no-evil’  principal got promoted before the thief , sorry , the   ‘misappropriator’  was arrested .

Finally , a brief story , hidden on page 19 , appeared in the L.A. Times . The headline said : School Administrator Admits To Misappropriation Of Funds . The short article said that he had admitted to misappropriating $45,000 and agreed to pay back $75,000 . It made him sound like a good guy , like maybe he had used funds meant for textbooks  to , instead , buy desks , or something like that . And now he was admitting fault and willing to pay more money back to make up for it .  The school district , I think , had done a good job at sweeping this potential scandal under the rug . His career was ruined , of course , but , as far as I know , he never went to prison . And , the way this system works , he is probably  getting his pension from the state , and at administrator rates . But , that’s a story for another day .more courtesy

The Bell defendants were not convicted of some other counts . The jury was deadlocked on whether or not the outrageous salaries constituted a violation of the law . The jury deliberated as long a period of time as  the trial had lasted . The judge told them , after the first verdicts were presented but the others remained  undecided , to go back and finish the job . They couldn’t . The judge later said that ” All hell had broken loose ” in the jury room . Today’s  L.A. Times front page headline reads :  BELL TRIAL ENDS IN CHAOS .  Yesterday’s was : FIVE GUILTY IN BELL .12 angry men

One juror described all of the defendants as “good people” .

The defendants had all blamed Rizzo for their current troubles .  He was the one who determined the salaries . Some of them , to justify a salary 10 times what it should have legally been , said that they had worked nights and weekends to help the poor city .

If these people manage to avoid prison , which is possible , then that will truly be a gift from God . Or someone .cropped-girl-and-devils-poster-circus.jpg

   

2 Comments

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2 responses to “City of Bell

  1. That’s horrible. There are so many people out there that think taking money from the “government” is OK because it’s free money. The government can spare it. WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT! What they don’t realize is, if they steal these funds, they are stealing from their mother, sisters and brothers, neighbors and friends. What idiots! That’s why there is so much Medicare fraud. Oh, it’s just free government money. Lack of education breeds ignorance.

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