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Bell Audit Remains Incomplete Since Rizzo Departure

Critical fiscal data disappeared, went missing, misplaced new audit in Bell concludes.
By Brian Hews and Randy Economy
The Lamplighter has learned that the city of Bell has remained unaudited for the past three years, including the critical period in which former indicted City Manager Robert Rizzo and seven other city officials were arrested on criminal charges for looting the city’s treasury for their own personal use.
The Lamplighter has obtained documentation this week in the form of an internal emails authored by Bell City Manager Doug Willmore that confirm that the accounting that the audits for 2009-2010 are “expected to be done in the next 30 days” by the accounting firm of Macias Gini & O’Connell.

“The financial and accounting irregularities that they have encountered have been massive and much larger than anyone could have expected. The backup data needed to perform a complete and thorough audit has been missing, misfiled, or misplaced,” Willmore told members of the Bell City Council this week in an internal email that was obtained by The Lamplighter.
Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to The Lamplighter on Wednesday that their office “was aware of it” but stressed that the DA has not received anything officials from city officials in Bell about the new found possible impropriates.
“Some of the items (in the audit) were presented to the County Grand Jury in the past,” Gibbons said.  She also pointed out that a new Grand Jury is impaneled every six weeks and that if there is new evidence of a crime that comes from the audit that a new case could be prepared and presented.
Cities, like counties and other local government agencies must produce annual financial statements and use outside auditors to review those statements.
Hallye Jordon, Deputy Controller of Communications said that these audits are used to determine the city’s financial position, its ability to meet its obligations, and the performance of the city’s management and governing board.
“The purpose of any quality-control review is to ensure the city’s contracted auditors followed generally accepted government audit standards, performed adequate testing and fieldwork, and were able to support their conclusions,” Jordon said.

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