Los Angeles Jury Returns Verdicts in Trial of the "Bell 6"

A jury in Los Angeles County returned verdicts in the trial of six former Bell City council members (the “Bell 6”) charged with misappropriating public funds to pay themselves excessive salaries. The scandal came to light in 2010 following the publication of a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times discussing the large salaries of officials in the working class city of Bell, outside Los Angeles. Collectively, the six council members were charged with misappropriating more than $1 million in taxpayer money by paying themselves large salaries in excess of state and city limits. Prosecutors charged the council members with deriving money from city commissions that did little or no work.

The verdicts were mixed as five of the defendants received guilty verdicts on some counts, and a single defendant was acquitted of all charges. However, the case is not over yet. The former city manager, Robert Rizzo, alleged by many to be the mastermind behind the corruption scheme, currently faces a separate trial on corruption charges.

CALIFORNIA’S THEFT OFFENSES LAW EXPLAINED

Under California law, theft offenses include grand larceny (or grand theft), robbery, and embezzlement, as well as misappropriation. Embezzlement is when a person diverts property or funds for personal use that he or she lawfully possesses but does not own. Importantly, the person must be in a position of trust or have a fiduciary duty to care for the property or money. This can mean a public official, or an employee entrusted with financial operations of a business, such as a financial officer, bookkeeper, bank teller, or secretary.

Whereas embezzlement applies to money and property, misappropriation only applies to money. A person misappropriates when he or she embezzles money for personal use, and can apply to public officials or to private individuals, such as a trusted employee.

Theft offenses are serious matters, and can involve severe penalties, such as prison time, probation, fines, or restitution. Consulting an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney is necessary to protect your rights and avoid harsh results.

CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED RANCHO CUCAMONGA CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER

If you or a loved one is facing a theft offense or have questions about these matters, contact Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense attorney John D. Lueck for a free initial consultation. Contact our office today or call us at (909) 341-1032 to discuss your case.

SUMMARY:

A jury in Los Angeles County returned verdicts in the trial of six former Bell City council members (the “Bell 6”) charged with misappropriating public funds to pay themselves excessive salaries.

Under California law, theft offenses include grand larceny (or grand theft), robbery, and embezzlement, as well as misappropriation.

Whereas embezzlement applies to money and property, misappropriation only applies to money.
Theft offenses are serious matters, and can involve severe penalties, such as prison time, probation, fines, or restitution.

If you or a loved one is facing a theft offense or have questions about these matters, contact Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense attorney John D. Lueck for a free initial consultation.

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