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Bail lowered for last Bell official in jail

Former Bell mayor and city councilman Victor Bello is shown in court.

February 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The last of eight current and former Bell officials still in jail on fraud charges had his bail reduced but remains in custody.

Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall reduced former city councilman and former Bell Mayor Victor Bello's bail to $100,000 from $190,000 on Friday.

However, Bello's attorney says his client still cannot raise the necessary funds. Also, Bello is required to prove that none of the bail money is linked to the corruption scandal.

Bello and seven others, nicknamed the "Bell Eight," are charged with bilking more than $5.5 million from the city. Bello has been in jail since his arrest Sept. 21. The seven others have all been freed. The highest bail was $2 million posted by former City Manager Robert Rizzo.

The $100,000 figure is the lowest granted to any of the others charged in the scandal. The judge denied a request to released Bello on his own recognizance.

Bello was paid about $100,000 a year as a councilman and, after he resigned that job, the same amount to run the city's food bank.

He and Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo, Councilman George Mirabal and former council members George Cole and Luis Artiga are to be arraigned March 2 on nearly two dozen counts of looting the city where one in six people live below the poverty line.

Rizzo, who had annual salary and compensation package of $1.5 million, and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, who was paid more than $375,000 a year, face a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if there is sufficient evidence for them to stand trial on similar charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.