LOS ANGELES – Eight current and former officials have pleaded not guilty to looting millions of dollars from California's modest blue-collar city of Bell.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hilleri G. Merritt ordered them to return to court Dec. 8 for a preliminary hearing. None of the eight, including Bell's mayor, vice mayor and ousted city manager spoke in court Thursday except to say "yes" when Merritt asked if they were agreeable to the hearing date.
The not guilty pleas were entered by their attorneys.
An additional hearing was scheduled for Friday for one of the defendants, Councilman George Mirabal, so his lawyer could discuss pretrial motions. A scheduling conflict kept Mirabal's chief attorney from appearing in court with him Thursday.
Only two of the defendants, Mirabal and former Councilman Victor Bello, are still in custody.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors have filed two new charges against a former city manager accused of looting funds from the scandal-plagued Los Angeles suburb of Bell.
Robert Rizzo is already facing more than 50 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest and falsification of documents. The new charges include one count each of misappropriation of funds and conflict of interest.
Rizzo is among eight current and former city officials appearing in court Thursday morning for arraignment.
Rizzo was paid an annual salary and compensation package of $1.5 million to run a city of about 40,000 residents where one in six people live in poverty.
Four City Council members who were paying themselves nearly $100,000 a year are also among those charged.