News Releases

July 31, 2014: Former Bell Mayor Sentenced to One Year in Jail

Jane Robison, Assistant Media Chief

Former Bell City Mayor Oscar Hernandez was sentenced today to one year in county jail and ordered to pay more than $241,000 in restitution to the city, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy first sentenced Hernandez, who turns 67 next week, to four years in state prison. However, she suspended the prison sentence and placed him on probation for five years. If he violates any laws, Kennedy said he will go to state prison.

Hernandez also was ordered to complete 1,000 hours of community service.

Deputy District Attorneys Sean Hassett and Edward Miller with the Public Integrity Division prosecuted the case.

Hernandez, along with former Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo and former Councilmembers George Mirabal, George Cole and Victor Bello were convicted last year of stealing a total of nearly $1 million.

When Hernandez was appointed to the Bell City Council on March 4, 2003, he earned $673 a month.

When he was turned out of office by voters in 2011 after the scandal became public, he was earning more than $100,000 annually.

The five hiked their pay by voting for illegal raises and creating sham boards and commissions that never met or convened for only minutes a year.

Hernandez is the fourth of five former council members to be sentenced in a massive public corruption case that nearly bankrupted the city of 35,000. Jacobo was sentenced to two years in state prison. Cole was sentenced to 180 days of home confinement with an ankle monitor, and Mirabal was sentenced to a year in county jail. All were ordered to pay hefty restitution amounts to the City of Bell.

In addition, Bell’s former chief administrative officer Robert Rizzo and Pier’ Angela Spaccia, his assistant, were sentenced in April to lengthy state prison terms. Each was ordered to repay more than $8 million in restitution to the city.

Sentencing for Bello, the last convicted councilman, is set for Friday before Judge Kennedy.

The case was investigated by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.