Six current and former members of the Bell City Council will face trial on corruption and embezzlement charges next month. They're accused of looting millions of dollars from the city treasury for salaries and benefits while residents of the Los Angeles suburb faced soaring taxes and fees while services declined. The LA Times reports the judge conducting the case's preliminary hearing found the evidence so appalling he considered ordering the current and former council members to jail.
Instead, NPR's Jeff Brady tells NPR Newscasts Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Henry Hall opted to force the officials to stay 100 feet away from City Hall "for the protection of the People of Bell". That'll make it hard for the Bell city administrator, who has urged the sitting council members to approve budget cuts to ward off financial disaster.
NPR Member station KPCC examines some of the latest evidence, including conversations and emails showing how Bell officials talked about "taking all Bell's money", hiding their real salaries from taxpayers and and behaving like 'pigs'.
The LA Times first broke the corruption allegations last year. NPR's David Folkenflik spoke with the Times reporters who pieced together the complex story.