Bell Councilman Sentenced|to Home Confinement

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A state judge on Wednesday sentenced former Bell City Councilman George Cole to 180 days home confinement for his part in the public corruption case that almost bankrupted the city.
     Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy’s placed Cole, 64, on probation for 5 years and sentenced him to 1,000 hours of community service. Cole will have to wear a GPS monitor while serving his sentence.
     Cole was convicted, along with four other council members, of stealing $1 million in public funds. He is the second member of the City Council to be sentenced. Former Councilman and Mayor George Mirabal was sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to pay more than $242,000 in restitution to the city.
     Cole, Mirabal, former Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo and former Councilman Victor Bello, were all convicted this year on corruption charges.
     Jacobo and Hernandez are to be sentenced later this month, Bello on Aug. 1.
     A jury in March 2013 convicted Cole of two counts of misappropriation of public funds. To avoid a retrial, he later pleaded no-contest to an additional count of misappropriation of public funds.
     “Cole was first elected to the Bell City Council in 1984 and served continuously until October 2008,” the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
     “When he was first elected, he earned $434 a month. Before retiring in 2008, he had made more than $75,000 in one year for serving on two sham boards the council created – the Surplus Property Authority and the Community Housing Authority.”
     Prosecutors sought a four-year prison term.
     At the center of the corruption scandal was Robert Rizzo, Bell’s former chief administrative officer. He was sentenced in April to 12 years in state prison and ordered to repay $8.8 million to Bell.
     Rizzo’s former assistant Pier’ Angela Spaccia also was sentenced in April, to 11 years and 8 months in state prison and ordered to pay more than $8.2 million in restitution.
     Cole, a former steel worker, claimed Rizzo had forced him to take the inflated salary. He said he had tried to donate his salary to charity, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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