Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Line Forms Here to Sue City of Bell

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Five retired administrators for the City of Bell, at least two of whom were part of city's salary scandal, sued the city in Superior Court, claiming it owes them pensions and medical benefits.

The five join a list of litigation-happy former officials, including former City Manager Robert Rizzo, former Assistant City Manager Pier Angela Spaccia and Ex-Police Chief Randy Williams, all of whom sued the city separately in the past 2 months.

In the new complaint, plaintiffs Luis Ramirez, Annette Peretz, Dayna Marroquin, Lisa Rowe and Xavier Vargas say the city owes them pensions under the city's supplemental retirement plan (SRP), in addition to medical, dental and vision benefits.

"On or about April 20, 2011, retroactive to August 1, 2010, the City of Bell passed a resolution whose sole purpose was to deny the plaintiffs their vested SRP benefits. The City of Bell is seeking to terminate plaintiffs vested rights in the SRP which were agreed to be provided as part of the plaintiffs compensation package of employment," the complaint states.

Also named as defendants are Wells Fargo Bank, which are "responsible and obligated to administer the pension plan at the direction of the city and the trustees of the Bell supplemental retirement plan."

Bell, a Los Angeles suburb of about 36,000, made national headlines in 2010 when the salaries of its top officials were revealed. State auditors found that the city's six highest-paid administrators received combined annual salaries of $6 million.

As deputy engineer, plaintiff Luis Ramirez was paid more than $247,000 per year.

Annette Peretz, former director of community services, earned an annual salary of more than $273,000, according to the Los Angeles times.

Rizzo's base salary of nearly $800,000 was almost twice that of the president.

Spaccia, the assistant city manager, took home a tidy $376,000. Both sued Bell in early November.

Former Police Chief Randy Adams also sued the city, for legal costs, in early October. He enjoyed a $457,000 salary - 50 percent more than the salary of the Los Angeles police chief, whose domain is 100 times more populous than Bell.

Four of Bell's five-member council were paid more than $100,000 a year for their part-time jobs. Mayor Oscar Hernandez and the four council members all resigned or were recalled.

The eye-popping salaries put the blue-collar town on the brink of bankruptcy.

The new plaintiffs are represented by attorney John Tkach of Pasadena. They seek damages for failure to pay benefits.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.