File Photo: Ex-Bell officials in court. Credit: Getty Images
Five former Bell city council members accepted a plea offer Wednesday and admitted to corruption charges in exchange for a promise of a reduced prison sentence.
George Cole, George Mirabal, Oscar Hernandez, Victor Bello, and Teresa Jacobo entered pleas of ‘no contest’ – that carry the same legal weight as guilty – to two counts apiece, that had been left unresolved following a trial last year that ended with partial guilty verdicts.
“I’d like to apologize to the City of Bell for my ignorance,” interrupted former Bell mayor Oscar Hernandez during the plea hearing, who was told he’d be allowed to address the court at a later time.
The plea agreement with prosecutors includes a recommendation of prison sentences of no more than 4 years.
“However, you could receive a lesser sentence including probation,” said L.A. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy.
The judge will make a restitution order. The City of Bell asked for just over $981,000.
The former officials were already facing up to 8 years in prison following convictions during the trial in 2013. The plea agreement halves that.
Sentencing hearings were set for June and July, and the prosecutor told the judge the 5 had also agreed to another condition:
“They won’t be able to hold public office,” said Deputy District Attorney Sean Hassett.
-- Eric Leonard (@LeonardFiles) at Criminal Courts