Bell corruption verdicts

Jurors returned mixed verdicts March 20, 2013, in the four-week public corruption trial of six former Bell City Council members and did not reach verdicts on 10 counts. One council member, Luis Artiga, was acquitted of all charges. Read the charges. (Jurors did not return decisions on counts 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, and 18.) Here’s a look at the decisions.

Victor Bello

Guilty: 4 counts

Not guilty: 4 counts

Victor Bello earned $96,999 a year as a Bell city councilman. He faced a total of 16 counts of misuse of public funds. Jurors said they could not reach a verdict on the other counts.


Bello was found guilty of four counts related to misappropriation of public funds regarding services on the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority. He was found not guilty of misappropriation of public funds related to services on the Public Finance Authority.


The jury did not reach a decision on misappropriation of public funds charges related to the Community Housing Authority and the Surplus Property Authority.


Oscar Hernandez

Guilty: 5 counts

Not guilty: 5 counts

Oscar Hernandez had emigrated from Mexico in his teens. With only an elementary school education, he could barely read or write. His defense attorney said he was elected for his heart, not his intellect.

Hernandez earned $96,999 a year as a Bell city councilman.


He faced a total of 20 counts of misuse of public funds. He was found guilty of five counts related to the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority. He was found not guilty of five counts related to the Public Finance Authority. The jury did not reach a verdict on the counts related to the Surplus Property Authority and the Community Housing Authority.


Luis Artiga

Not guilty: 12 counts

Luis Artiga, a pastor in Bell, was appointed to the City Council long after salaries for council members had been boosted, a point his attorney underscored in closing arguments.

Artiga earned $96,999 a year as a Bell city councilman. He faced a total of 12 counts of misuse of public funds and was acquitted on all charges.

Teresa Jacobo

Guilty: 5 counts

Not guilty: 5 counts

Teresa Jacobo earned $96,999 a year as a Bell city councilwoman. She faced a total of 20 counts of misuse of public funds.


Jacobo was found guilty of five counts related to the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority. She was found not guilty of five counts related to the Public Finance Authority. Jurors said they could not reach a verdict on the other counts, which were related to the Surplus Property Authority and the Community Housing Authority.

George Mirabal

Guilty: 5 counts

Not guilty: 5 counts

George Mirabal earned $96,999 a year as a Bell city councilman. He faced a total of 20 counts of misuse of public funds.


Mirabal was found guilty of five counts related to service on the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority. He was found not guilty of five counts related to the Public Finance Authority. Jurors said they could not reach a verdict on the other counts, which were related to the Community Housing Authority and the Surplus Property Authority.




For the record: An earlier version of this report misspelled George Mirabal’s name as Mirabel.

George Cole

Guilty: 2 counts

Not guilty: 2 counts

George Cole, a retired steelworker, was a member of the Bell City Council for 24 years, which included routine rotations as mayor, before he abruptly quit the panel in October 2008.

Cole was not a sitting councilman at the time of his arrest.


He faced a total of eight counts of misuse of public funds. He was found guilty of two counts related to the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority. He was found not guilty of two counts related to the Public Finance Authority. Jurors said they could not reach a verdict on the other counts, which were related to the Community Housing Authority and the Surplus Property Authority.