Apparently, the high salaries were not enough. The newspaper is reporting that former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, Bell city employees and at least two Bell city council members took nearly $900,000 in loans from the city over the last several years.
Documents reviewed by the Times show that Rizzo received two loans for $80,000 each, the city’s former assistant city manager received two loans of at least $100,000 each and Councilmen Oscar Hernandez and Luis Artiga received $20,000 loans.
“The council members should have declared any loans from the city,” said David Demerjian, head of the Public Integrity Unit of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which is investigating Bell, told the Times. “I cannot think of a reason to provide loans to a council member.”
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In an interview, Artiga said Rizzo told him about the loan program when he was having financial difficulties last year. Artiga said Rizzo described the loan as a “pay advance” and said that the city would deduct money from his check to repay it.
Artiga said Rizzo told him some employees used the loans to buy homes.
Hernandez did not return calls seeking comment. Bell’s new Interim City Manager Pedro Carillo said it appears that at least 50 people received loans over the last eight years.
“Currently our city attorney has questioned their legality,” Carrillo said. “What we’re investigating is who authorized it, why and how.”