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Bell loan program for employees totals more than originally reported

Documents released by Bell show the city’s loan program for employees totaled nearly $1.5 million — greater than originally reported.

Based on documents it had obtained, The Times tallied payments to more than a dozen employees for nearly $900,000, all apparently part of “administrative agreements” or loans issued by the city.

But in response to a public records request, Bell provided more than 100 pages of additional documents that showed loans totaling $1.49 million. Some were marked “paid”; others had handwritten notes suggesting they are still outstanding.

The city also acknowledged that former City Manager Robert Rizzo also received two loans for $80,000 each, which pushes the total to more than $1.6 million.

In response to an article in Wednesday’s Times, City Manager Pedro Carrillo, whose one-year contract was approved this week, posted a statement on the city’s website saying that the program had been halted and that outstanding loans will be immediately requested for repayment.

“We are in the midst of determining who benefited from the program, how much money was loaned from the program and how much money remains to be paid back to the city of Bell,” he said.

Documents show that former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia received three loans totaling more than $300,000. Lourdes Garcia, the administrative services manager, obtained two loans for $177,500; and Annette Peretz, Bell’s director of community services, got a $95,000 loan. The loans were all signed by Rizzo and appeared to be given with vacation and sick pay used as collateral.

Current Councilmen Luis Artiga and Oscar Hernandez each received a $20,000 loan. Neither Hernandez nor Artiga reported the loans on state financial disclosure forms, which is required under state law.

Bell officials were trying to determine which loans remain outstanding. Artiga said he repaid his loan in 10 months.

Carrillo and City Atty. Jamie Casso said they have not found evidence that the City Council approved the loan program, which appears to have been created by Rizzo.

jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com


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