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Bell city clerk said she was ordered to lie

Bell City Clerk Rebecca Valdez claimed she was ordered to lie about the salaries of council members.

February 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Bell's city clerk claimed she was ordered to lie about the salaries of council members.

Rebecca Valdez testified Thursday in the preliminary hearing for six current and former officials facing corruption charges. She said she was ordered to give false information to a public records request demanding to know what the city manager and council members were paid.

Valdez said she prepared the correct figures, but when she showed the numbers to then-City Manager Robert Rizzo he gave her much lower figures and ordered her to release them. She said she was told to report that council members made $673 a month, even though she knew it was more than ten times that amount.

Valdez testified that part of her job as city clerk was to keep track of payroll records and respond to public records requests. She said she was under orders to show all such records to Rizzo.

Asked by prosecutor Ed Miller where Rizzo got the lower figures, Valdez replied, "I don't know, he just came up with it."

The six public officials who are the subject of the current preliminary hearing are Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez; Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo; Councilman George Mirabal; former Mayor George Cole; former Councilmen Luis Artiga and Victor Bello. A preliminary hearing for Rizzo and former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia is scheduled for sometime next week.

The "Bell Eight" are accused of illegally boosting their salaries by serving on public agencies that prosecutors say were just a sham.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.