Former Bell cop who blew whistle on alleged corruption gets job back
Jeff Gottlieb (Los Angeles Times) | August 3, 2012
A Bell police sergeant who said he was forced into retirement in retaliation for reporting corruption in the city has received $400,000 and been reinstated to the force.
The size of the settlement of James Corcoran’s whistle-blower lawsuit is far less than what he might have received at trial, experts agreed.
Retired U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, who served as mediator, said Bell could have lost more than $3 million if the case had gone to trial, according to a memo that City Atty. Dave Aleshire wrote to City Council members.
“He thought that, given everything out there about Bell and how it operated and the idea of a whistle-blower, the management of Bell was a very unsympathetic defendant and the jury would want to send a message to the city,” Aleshire told The Times.
Tevrizian had recommended that the city pay Corcoran $1.6 million, Aleshire said, but the City Council refused to approve the deal. Continued discussions between Corcoran, 59, and the city led to the settlement.
City Manager Doug Willmore said he thought the settlement was “almost an act of generosity” on Corcoran’s part.
Corcoran will receive $240,000 in lost wages and $160,000 in attorneys’ fees. The council approved the settlement Wednesday.
Corcoran, who had worked as a Bell police officer for 19 years, said he took the deal “to go back to work. To go back to my profession. It’s a matter of professional pride.”
Photo credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
Tags: City of Bell, James Corcoran, official corruption, retaliation, whistle-blower