More than two years after The Times exposed the exorbitant salaries of part-time city politicians and administrators in working-class Bell, five former City Council members were found guilty of stealing public money.
The verdicts in the four-week trial were decidedly mixed, with acquittals on some charges, and the jury did not reach a verdict in about half the counts.
Former chief executive Robert Rizzo and assistant city manager Angela Spaccia will both stand trial at a later date.
The Times' stories sparked state legislative reforms, the recall of the sitting council, a tax refund for residents and local, state and federal investigations.
BELL: ROAD TO TRIAL
Jurors delivered a mixed verdict on five defendants and acquitted a sixth on charges of misappropriating public funds by paying themselves huge salaries.
Angela Spaccia, former assistant to ex-Bell city manager Robert Rizzo, wants her court proceedings 'severed' from Rizzo's to avoid being 'tainted by association.'
The judge declares a mistrial on the remaining counts after saying that 'all hell has broken loose' with the jury.
Bell residents want world to know that Bell has changed since the days of embarrassing headlines. Reformers now hold office.
Jurors deliver mixed verdicts but fully acquit only one of six of the former officials. Many counts are left unresolved.
Randy Adams was seeking a pension of $510,000 a year. The judge says the Bell City Council never approved his $457,000 annual salary.
Randy Adams, who is asking the state retirement system to double his pension to reflect his huge salary in Bell, was on the witness stand at a hearing on the request.
Deputy district attorney says his office could not build a case against Randy Adams, whose pay is an issue in the case against Rizzo and others.
The Bell scandal has prompted the state retirement system to look again at some officials' payouts.
Former city administrator and his assistant conducted an elaborate plan to conceal benefits and bypass state law by hiding their true pensions, an indictment says.
The city paid top dollar for property but got back $425,000 from escrow that is now unaccounted for.
Residents of the scandal-racked city recall four council members and elect five.
Miguel Sanchez, 34, a special-ed teacher's aide, had flu-like symptoms last week and was admitted to the hospital early Friday morning. Fellow activists said the campaign had been causing him great stress.
On March 8 the city's voters will have something they haven't had in years: candidates not hand-picked by former City Administrator Robert Rizzo ¿ 18 of them.
Robert Rizzo seemed right for the town -- until he became an 'unaccountable czar.'
Chiang's office finds that an accounting firm that gave Bell clean audits failed to comply with auditing standards.
Legal experts point to a lack of due process and judicial oversight in hundreds of 'civil compromises,' in which plumbers, carpet cleaners and bottle-gatherers paid up to $1,000 for alleged code violations.
The city collected tens of thousands of dollars annually. Some of the revenue helped pay unusually high municipal salaries. Experts say the practice may be illegal.
Lorenzo Velez knows he owes the acclaim mostly to serendipity. He never got his colleagues' $100,000 salary because it wasn't offered.
Randy Adams had himself declared disabled even as he was hired for the job, a move that could make him millions in tax-free pension income when he retires, according to records and interviews.
The doubling of sewer, trash and other service taxes occurred without voter approval. State auditors have spent weeks reviewing the city's financial records.
Eight are held in scandal the D.A. calls 'corruption on steroids'
Draft report alleges that $95,000 in city money was put in Robert Rizzo's retirement accounts to repay loans he had made to himself. An expert says the allegations could amount to federal wire fraud.
Ex-Bell official said his pay was lower than it was. Some experts say his actions could invalidate his contracts and require that he repay money he earned.
The Justice Department is looking into whether the city violated the civil rights of Latino residents by aggressively towing cars and charging people exorbitant fees to get them back.
Business license taxes were illegally raised over the last decade, bringing to $5.6 million the amount owed back to taxpayers -- more than a third of the city's general fund.
Police say they were pushed to find cars to tow. Authorities say the practice discourages gangs but will be changed.
Property owners overpaid $621,737 in levies that were raised in 2007, California controller says. The finding comes several weeks after auditors found taxpayers were overcharged $2.9 million for a 'retirement tax.'
Records show one panel hasn't convened since early 2005, yet members were each paid $1,575 per month
Some who worked with him in Bell and elsewhere over the years came to know him as a calculating risk-taker.
Former assistant city manager received at least $200,000. Experts say such a city loan program for employees is unusual.
Robert Rizzo's vacation and sick time totaled more than 28 weeks a year, the city discloses.
The state's embattled pension system did not act four years ago when it learned about the city's runaway salaries. The state attorney general and auditors express shock that nothing was done.
Several residents report incidents involving absentee ballots to D.A., who is probing city elections.
Under the state's arcane, convoluted public pension system, Bell will pay a fraction of the city manager and police chief's pensions. Former employers and other cities will bear the brunt of the cost.
L.A. County D.A. examines the city's $4.6-million purchase tied to a former politician.
Homes of the same value in richer cities are taxed at a much lower rate, county tax records show. Residents are already angry about excessive salaries paid to officials.
The city cut more than $800,000 from public safety and community services the same year that it gave City Manager Robert Rizzo an $82,000 raise.
The city asked voters to back conversion to charter status in 2005, the year the California Legislature limited the pay of council members statewide. Only 400 people in a city of 40,000 voted on the measure.
In nearby cities, residents rose up to oust corrupt officials with mixed results.
Bell isn't a big town, or a wealthy one. But some of its top officials are paid double or triple the salaries of their counterparts elsewhere.
The district attorney's review of city records finds that each member in the working-class community of slightly less than 40,000 people gets $8,083 per month. A $400 monthly stipend was expected.
The messages, made public by prosecutors, offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how some Bell officials talked about their exorbitant pay.