Mistrial declared in Bell, Calif., case

March 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM
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LOS ANGELES, March 22 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles judge presiding over the Bell, Calif., corruption trial declared a mistrial, saying "all hell has broken loose" with the divided jury.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy's announcement came Thursday and applies to 42 charges in the case, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"It seems to me all hell has broken loose," Kennedy said before asking jurors if they wanted to continue to deliberate the trial, which they ultimately decided not to.

Kennedy declined to throw out a verdict reached Wednesday in which jurors convicted former Bell city employees Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal of corruption charges for increasing their salaries by serving on bogus government boards that rarely met.

Luis Artiga, a pastor, was exonerated on all counts. Robert Rizzo, the former city administrator alleged to be the mastermind of the corruption, is awaiting trial.

An official with the prosecution said they hadn't decided whether to retry the defendants on the remaining 42 counts they were acquitted of.

The five convicted defendants are to be sentenced April 23.

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