(AP) - The blue-collar suburb of
U.S. Justice Department investigators were trying to determine if the towing was part of a broader scheme to generate more revenue for the city.
Interim Chief Administrative Officer Pedro Carrillo told The Associated Press that city officials were cooperating with the probe.
"I can't comment on an open investigation, obviously, but the issues have been corrected," Carrillo said. "We're currently working with the Police Department to change all of the practices of the past."
The latest investigation was first reported by the Los Angeles Times citing law enforcement officials who declined to be identified because the investigation was ongoing. The officials said investigators were also looking into whether the city aggressively enforced other municipal codes in an effort to raise money.
The federal investigation follows one launched by the state attorney general and Los Angeles County district attorney after it was learned that Bell had some of the highest-paid officials in the nation, even though one in six residents live in poverty.
Since the salary scandal emerged, numerous residents of the city, where about 90 percent of residents are Hispanic, have complained that young Hispanic men have been targeted for minor traffic infractions.
"If you're Hispanic they will stop you for any reason," Frank Lopez, a security guard, recently told The Associated Press as he arrived at City Hall to pay a ticket. "They've pulled me over and said, 'You got papers?' I told them I was born here."
"We'd look for younger guys in their 20s and 30s, guys with junkier cars, broken lights, loud music or tinted windows," Owens said.
The median household income is $40,556 a year in
Meanwhile, the city manager was earning nearly $800,000 a year, the assistant city manager $376,288 a year, and the police chief $457,000 a year.
Those three officials have since resigned, and residents have launched a recall campaign against the four council members, all of whom have since reduced their salaries to about $8,000 a year.