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Trial Date Set In Bell Corruption Trial; New Manager Vows ‘Good Audit’

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The first permanent manager of the city of Bell since Robert Rizzo was forced to resign two years ago will take over on Friday.

Doug Willmore told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he wants to bring his “long track record of doing things the right way” to a city that has been rocked by a series of headline-making scandals since 2010.

The city council voted 4-0 on May 21 in favor of appointing Willmore out of a field of 72 applicants for a three-year contract that will pay an estimated $175,000 annually.

Ahead of his first day on the job, Willmore gave the revamped City Council a full endorsement and said they deserve a chance to earn back the trust of the residents of Bell.

“I can see very clearly they’re committed to progress, they’re committed to transparency, they’re committed to integrity and doing things the right way, so I think that’s the first thing that citizens have to look at, because they deserve so much better than what they’ve gotten,” said Willmore.

The former city manager of El Segundo and Salt Lake City also pledged to ensure proper safeguards were in place to prevent a repeat of the 2010 scandal that left his predecessor and six others facing corruption and fraud charges.

Willmore said he wants to initially focus on reinstating annual audit procedures for the city.

“The things that were there in the past should’ve been caught by a good audit,” he said. “The first thing that I think citizens can be confident about would be a good audit firm and good audit procedures that the city will be going through.”

Meanwhile, a tentative trial date of October 15 was set for former Bell councilman George Cole on Thursday, but as KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports, Cole’s attorney is confident his client will beat the case.

“These people are honest and they are law-abiding and the DA’s evidence is weak,” said attorney Ronald Kay.

A trial date is yet to be scheduled for Rizzo and the other former administrators.

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