Ferguson, Mo.'s, alleged revenue scams echo in southeast L.A. County

Allegations of revenue-generating scams in Ferguson, Mo., echo incidents in southeast L.A. County

The U.S. Justice Department report on the Ferguson Police Department -- which among other things alleged police targeted blacks and used arrests as a revenue-generating scheme -- echoes some incidents that occurred over the last decade in southeast Los Angeles County.

Residents in blue-collar, predominantly Latino southeast L.A. County complained for years that they were unfairly targeted by city officials for profit. Some examples:

Bell's arbitrary fines

Amid Bell's corruption scandal in 2010, The Times reported that the city "extracted tens of thousands of dollars from plumbers, carpet cleaners, even people scavenging for bottles and cans, by seizing vehicles for alleged code violations and then pressuring the owners to pay arbitrary fines.

"In hundreds of cases, city officials created documents that looked like official court papers declaring individuals were making a payment to the city as part of a 'civil compromise.' Normally, such cases would be reviewed by a judge to ensure that they had been settled fairly. But the vast majority of these cases do not appear to have been presented to a court."

After The Times reports, the city ended the practice.

Car towing

Both Bell and neighboring Maywood faced accusations that police targeted immigrants in the U.S. without proper papers with towing schemes. They claimed police would pull over drivers simply to impound their cars, forcing the drivers to pay large impound fees.

Both cities vowed to halt the practice.

Illegal taxes

State auditors concluded that Bell officials in 2007 illegally raised taxes on residents. Bell is one of the poorest cities in L.A. County, but it had one of the highest tax burdens. The state later ordered Bell to refund millions of dollars.

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