Corrupt Mayor Gets a Year

LOS ANGELES (CN) – The ex-mayor of Bell, Calif., Oscar Hernandez, was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison and ordered to pay $241,000 in restitution for the corruption scandal that nearly bankrupted the city.
     Initially, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy handed down a 4-year sentence to the 66-year-old Hernandez. But the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said the judge decided suspended that sentence and placed him on probation for 5 years.
     If Hernandez violates his probation he will go to state prison, the District Attorney’s Office said. Hernandez must also complete 1,000 hours of community service.
     Hernandez was convicted, along with four other council members, of stealing $1 million in public money to fund grossly inflated salaries and benefits for part-time work, sometimes on bogus boards and commissions that rarely convened.
     He is the fourth City Council member to be sentenced – after George Mirabal, George Cole and Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo.
     Jacobo was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
     Cole was sentenced to 180 days of home confinement with an ankle monitor.
     Mirabal was sentenced to a year in county jail.
     All were ordered to pay restitution.
     All of them were convicted of corruption charges this year. Also convicted was former Councilman Victor Bello, who will be sentenced Friday.
     “When Hernandez was appointed to the Bell City Council on March 4, 2003, he earned $673 a month. When he was turned out of office by voters in 2011 after the scandal became public, he was earning more than $100,000 annually,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
     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.

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