Bell corruption trial: Former mayor convicted on 5 counts

LOS ANGELES

Numerous other verdicts are still being read.

The jury was deliberating in the trial of Hernandez and former council members Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal, Luis Artiga, George Cole and Victor Bello, who are charged with misappropriation of public funds from the blue-collar city.

For five weeks, jurors listened to the case presented by the prosecution, asserting that six former council members looted Bell's city treasury.

"The evidence will show that these defendants stole over $1.3 million from the citizens of Bell," said Deputy District Attorney Ed Miller during the trial.

The defendants face 12 to 20 counts of misappropriation of public funds. A key question is whether they had lawful authority to give themselves hefty salaries.

In trial, there were arguments about whether the defendants understood the law. The prosecution says they all had experience handling money, and that as residents of a low-income city, they should have known that their salaries of $60,000 to $100,000 a year were excessive. The defendants say they relied on professionals on staff, including the city attorney, who indicated in documents that the council members did act legally.

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