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Crime & Courts

Former Bell City Council members plead no contest to charges of stealing public funds

Five former elected officials charged with stealing millions of dollars from the modest Los Angeles suburb of Bell have pleaded no contest to misappropriating public funds.

The five entered their pleas Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy.

They are to be sentenced at separate hearings beginning next month. Each faces a term ranging from probation to four years in prison.

Prosecutors say the five created sham boards and commissions that existed only to pay them annual salaries of about $100,000 to oversee the small city.

They were convicted of similar charges following a jury trial last year. Jurors were unable to reach verdicts on all the charges, however, and the remaining ones were resolved with Wednesday's pleas.

Bell's former city manager, Robert Rizzo, is to be sentenced next week.

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