Hmmm?

Mayor of small city was ‘too stupid and uneducated’ to know his $100k salary was illegal, his lawyer argues

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 20:21 EST, 21  February 2013 |  UPDATED: 20:26 EST, 21 February 2013

 

The former mayor of Bell, California, was too  stupid and uneducated to know his $100,000 salary for the part-time city job was  illegal, his lawyer argued today.

Oscar Hernandez is illiterate, has no high  school degree and didn’t even finish elementary school, defense attorney Stanley  Friedmand told jurors.

Hernandez and five former members of the Bell City Council are on trial, accused of stealing $1.3million in exorbitant pay from the working-class city of 35,000.

'Too dumb to know better': The lawyer for former Bell, California, Mayor Oscar Hernandez said his client is illiterate and uneducated and didn't know his $100,000 salary was illegal 

‘Too dumb to know better’: The lawyer for former Bell,  California, Mayor Oscar Hernandez said his client is illiterate and uneducated  and didn’t know his $100,000 salary was illegal

All six elected officials drew salaries of up  to $100,000 for serving on boards that seldom met and accomplished  little.

Defense lawyers painted the officials as  ignorant pawns of city manager Robert Rizzo and city attorney Edward Lee, who  both advised them that massive pay raises were legal.

The attorneys for the former officials also  blamed the city’s financial advisory firm, which never advised the town to pare  back the salaries, they say.

Deputy District Attorney Edward Miller,  though, said the officials all had important jobs in the community before their  election. They weren’t daft or pawns – just greedy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hernandez owned a grocery store. Former  council member Teresa Jacobo was a real estate agent and former councilman  George Mirabal had worked as a city clerk.

In cuffs: Robert Rizzo, former city manager, Angela Spaccia, former assistant city manager, Victor Bello, former council member and Oscar Hernandez, mayor, were all arrested as part of a corruption investigation 

In cuffs: Robert Rizzo, former city manager, Angela  Spaccia, former assistant city manager, Victor Bello, former council member and  Oscar Hernandez, mayor, were all arrested as part of a corruption  investigation

‘They just weren’t “yes men,” except when it  came to pay raises for themselves,’ Mr Miller told jurors.

The officials are accused of appointing each  other to boards, some of which met only once a year, in order to skirt public  pay laws.

In the midst of the recession, the officials  were earning $100,000 from the city – three and a half times the median income  of the citizens they were elected to represent.

The average salary for part-time elected  officials at other California cities of similar size was $4,800.

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