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Former Bell chief wants strapped city to pay his legal fees

Former Bell Police Chief Randy G. Adams is requesting that a judge order Bell to pay legal expenses he incurred while defending himself in a civil lawsuit and corruption investigations.

Attorneys for the former chief filed a complaint against the city earlier this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court after Bell repeatedly refused to pay his expenses.

“The city would not talk to us, so we’re forced to take this action,” said Adams’ attorney, Thomas P. O’Brien. He said Adams is trying to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses.

Adams has not been criminally charged, and a civil lawsuit that named him and seven other officials was dismissed by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

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O’Brien said state law and Adams’ employment contract require the city to cover his legal costs.

The complaint is another costly bill for the poor town left financially strapped by last year’s municipal scandal that resulted in criminal charges against eight former officials.

“The lawsuits do not stop coming,” said Councilman Nestor Valencia. “It’s shameful that a career police officer and former chief now seeks legal remedy on the backs of us and forgets that it was his bad judgment to accept the job.”

The former chief has long been the focus of criticism by residents in Bell, partly because of controversial police towing practices and allegations of civil rights violations against Latinos.

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He was also criticized for his lucrative employment contract. In addition to his $457,000 salary, Adams and Bell’s former chief administrative officer, Robert Rizzo, struck a deal that allowed the chief to file for a disability pension with the city’s support. The agreement would amount to a 50% tax break on his retirement benefits.

Before arriving in Bell, Adams had been police chief in Glendale.

O’Brien said Adams was “terminated” after the amount of his salary was made public.

ruben.vives@latimes.com


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