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Bell pay scandal case sets precedent for future disputes, pension board says

Reduction of former Bell police chief's pension sets precedent

A California pension board’s decision to slash the retirement benefits of former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams because his salary was concealed from the public will serve as a precedent for other cases in which government officials receive hidden pay, the panel has announced.

An administrative law judge had ruled in 2012 that Adams' pension would be based on his previous salary as Glendale police chief rather than the $457,000 in annual pay he received from Bell.

Adams originally sought an annual pension of $510,000. Today, he is receiving $290,000, according to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The CalPERS board said in a statement this week that, as a precedent, the Adams decision “can be officially cited in court, in other administrative proceedings, and may be applied broadly to other cases.”

“To be the basis for a pension, a public official's salary must be readily available to the public,” the board said.

He was ousted in 2010 after Times reports on extravagant salaries paid to Bell officials touched off a scandal in the working-class town. Former City Manager Robert Rizzo, his top assistant and five City Council members were convicted on corruption charges. One council member was acquitted.

Adams was not charged.

In a separate case, the CalPERS board adopted an earlier ruling by an administrative judge that drastically reduced the final pay of former Bell Councilman George Mirabal — from $8,083 to $673 — for the purpose of computing his pension, officials said.

Mirabal’s pension is now $123 a month, the spokeswoman said. He was among those convicted in the Bell scandal.

Attempts to reach Adams and Mirabal for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

paul.pringle@latimes.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATED

8:20 p.m.: This post was revised with new information on former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams' current pension amount.

This post was originally published at 4:33 p.m.

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