A former Realtor who became a high-paid councilwoman in Bell is set to be sentenced Friday, the third of five ex-city politicians who were swept up in a massive corruption case that left the working-class town on the edge of bankruptcy.
Like the others, Teresa Jacobo was convicted of misappropriating public funds by boosting her salary for her part-time work to nearly $100,000 a year by serving on boards and commissions that rarely, if ever, met.
During her trial, Jacobo portrayed herself as a hard-working municipal worker who put in long hours but never questioned the town’s domineering city manager, Robert Rizzo.
Asked by Deputy Dist. Atty. Edward Miller whether she thought it was wrong for the council to vote for a 12% raise for itself in a city where the median annual income was about $30,000, Jacobo said, "I thought I was doing a very good job to be able to earn that, yes."
Two of Jacobo’s former council colleagues – George Cole and George Mirabal – were sentenced earlier. Mirabal, a former funeral director, was sentenced to one year in jail, though his attorney predicted he’ll likely serve only days. George Cole, a well-known political figure in southeast Los Angeles County, was given home confinement and probation.
Prosecutors have recommended that Jacobo receive four years in state prison, the same request they made for the others. They have also asked that she be ordered to pay the city nearly a quarter of a million dollars in restitution.
So far, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy has reserved her harshest punishments for the architect of the corruption in Bell – Rizzo and his second-in-command, Angela Spaccia. Both were given lengthy prison terms.