Former Bell councilman gets 1-year jail sentence

The Associated PressJuly 11, 2014 

— A former council member in the scandal-ridden city of Bell was given a relatively light sentence Friday of a year in jail, five years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service for misappropriation of millions in public funds.

Prosecutors expressed disappointment that the sentence was far more lenient than the four years behind bars that they requested for George Mirabal in a scheme masterminded by former City Manager Robert Rizzo.

Rizzo is serving 12 years in state prison and is under orders to pay more than $8 million in restitution to the city. His assistant, Angela Spaccia, is serving 11 years, eight months in state prison and was ordered to repay more than $8 million to the city.

Mirabal was the first of five former council members to be sentenced in the notorious case that nearly bankrupted the small working class town.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy ordered Mirabal to pay $242,000 in restitution to the city.

According to prosecutors, Mirabal's salary rose from $434 a month as city clerk to $100,000 a year on the council where he served for 17 years.

Mirabal and his colleagues on the council were convicted of giving themselves illegal raises and setting up sham boards and commissions that never met or convened for only minutes a year during which votes were held on salary raises.

"I feel terrible for what happened in Bell. It was a failure of our political process in every way." But she said Mirabal and his former colleagues had some "redeeming qualities," Kennedy said, according to a City News Service report.

The four other council members are to be sentenced within a month.

The Fresno Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service