George Cole, a former steelworker who became mayor of Bell and was swept up in the corruption case that enveloped the tiny city, was sentenced Wednesday to 180 days of home confinement and ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service. The sentence was much less severe than the prison time Los Angeles County prosecutors had requested.
Cole and four other former council members were convicted last year of looting the city’s treasury by drawing oversized salaries and later pleaded guilty to an additional corruption charge.
Prosecutors had asked that Cole be sentenced to four years in state prison.
During the trial for the council members, Cole described himself as a devoted leader in the working-class city who tried to give up his nearly six-figure salary and donate it to charity.
As others did, Cole tried to shift to blame to Robert Rizzo, the city's former domineering city manager. He testified that Rizzo told him he had to take the salary, which paid council members for serving on various boards and commissions that rarely, if ever, met.
Cole was also ordered to pay $77,000 in restitution.