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Audits of city finances often cover up serious problems

Nov 12, 2010 3:00:00 AM - latimes.com
Accountants gave Bell clean reports, ignoring red flags that pointed to excessive salaries, illegal taxes and failure to follow reporting requirements. A Times review finds Bell is far from being alone.

The scandal in the city of Bell has resulted in seven separate investigations and one round of criminal charges against former City Administrator Robert Rizzo and other current and former officials. But year after year, during a period marked by record salaries, illegal taxes, loans to insiders and arbitrary fees on businesses, the city's outside auditors, Mayer Hoffman McCann, gave Bell's financial record a clean bill of health.

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