“The charges we filed today are a major step to ending the feeding frenzy of corruption by Bell officials,” Cooley said in a statement.
He accused council members of being paid a combined $1.2 million for meetings that either never happened, or lasted for a minute or two. In all, the group misappropriated $5.5 million in public money, Cooley said.
The group is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in court on public corruption charges, with bails ranging from $3.2 million for Rizzo, to $130,00 for Cole, according to county district attorney's office.
Adams, who stepped down amid the fallout over his $457,000 salary, was not among those arrested in the sweep, but officials noted that myriad investigations remained ongoing.
"Being paid excessive amounts is not a crime,” Cooley said.
In the wake of Los Angeles Times articles detailing bloated executive salaries and “phantom” meetings in which council members were paid large stipends, outrage has taken hold in the largely working class city of Bell.
Adams has kept a low profile since stepping down. City officials in Glendale, Simi Valley and Ventura – where he spent the majority of his career – have been lobbying state agencies to step in and block what may be hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional contributions to Adams’ retirement fund, which is tied to his highest annual salary.
Since Adams only worked one year in Bell, but more than doubled his salary, Glendale, Simi Valley and Ventura would be left holding the bag for the related jump in contributions to his retirement benefits.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) has been working on a bill that would protect cities from getting caught in similar situations, and investigations into the legality of the pay increases remain ongoing.