Former Calif. Scandal City Manager Won't Contest 69 Criminal Counts

It's good to be king? Not always. According to allegation, Robert Rizzo, the former city administrator of Bell, Calif., could have been the king of swindling public sector employees not so long ago. Now? Rizzo just pleaded no contest to 69 counts in his corruption trial, according to a Los Angeles County District Attorney's office press release. And he's likely to get the "the longest prison term for public corruption" -- the judge says 10 to 12 years -- in the area since 2000.

Rizzo's plea was a surprise to everyone, including the DA, and came less than a week before a jury was to be chosen. The DA's office calls the move "an open plea" to the presiding judge and was not a negotiated settlement.


Rizzo was part of an alleged corruption ring that reportedly included his one-time deputy and co-defendant, former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia, according to the DA's statement. Her trial is scheduled to start on Monday. In addition, five former Bell elected officials -- including a mayor, vice-mayor, and three council members -- were already found guilty in March.

The ring was reportedly as brazen as it was large. The five former officials paid themselves salaries topping off at $100,000 a year in a city of 35,000 people, 25 percent of whom lived below the poverty line. An audit had found that the officials illegally raised local taxes and fees to fund their salaries.

They were pikers compared to what allegedly went on elsewhere. Rizzo's paycheck reportedly reached a $1.5 million peak in a year when he had 107 vacation days and 36 sick days. According to the DA's office, his salary before he resigned in July 2010 was just under what must have seemed in comparison a paltry $800,000. To put that into context, that's about double what the President of the United States makes.

According to television station KTLA, Rizzo was charged with a variety of schemes that cost the city millions of dollars, including writing his own employment contracts that never received City Council approval. Apparently, Rizzo is claiming that Spaccia was the real mastermind behind the fraud.

If only allegations of questionable practices stopped there, but they don't. Randy Adams, a former police chief of Bell, was ousted in 2010 amidst the larger pay scandal. He had been making $457,000 a year, not including benefits. Throw those in and the amount rose to total compensation of $770,046. Last year he sued the city for his severance pay, claiming that he was forced out -- no, really? -- and had never agreed to give up his severance. During the suit, he was drawing a $22,000 monthly pension.

Another official fired in 2010, city prosecutor Eric Eggena, received total compensation of $421,000, including a clause that required the city to pay his portion of FICA taxes and double accumulation of sick and vacation time. He wasn't criminally charged and, last year, decided to sue for back pay of $837,000: 18 months of severance in addition to 192 vacation days and 137 sick days.

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madlyfem

Is the Death Penalty open to the judge?

October 07 2013 at 4:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
raeinsurance

Way to go to great lengths to NOT mention what party they are all affliliated with HP... Laughable!
Before all you libs call me a hick or neo-con, I am fully aware that there are more than enough corrupt republicans and I do not defend those who are. This is simply to point out that the word republican would have appeared 25 times in the story if the shoe was on the other foot.
Whether R or D, we all need to wise up and see that none of the "establishment" is interested in helping us "commoners". Their job is to incite hatred and diivide us so that they keep their jobs.
Wake up America!

October 07 2013 at 2:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to raeinsurance's comment
madlyfem

These are the kind of people who say they are whatever Party that they need to be to get into power. You look at the crime stories about people who used their elected position to steal money and not because they had any beliefs, and ask yourself, does it really matter if that guy is a Democrat or a Republican, or is the REAL question is he a crook?

I've noticed one thing about politicians who get into sex scandals, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats. They are almost all in their late 40's and 50's. Doesn't that just scream "midlife crisis"? I can't think of any who weren't. I say almost because I may have missed one. I've begun to think that maybe unless there is a crime too, like in the Senator John Ensign (R-Nev) case, we should think about cutting them some slack.

Few people go into politics to fleece the sheep. Those who do, don't care what label they put on themselves, as long as they get into a position to get a lot of wool. I've followed this case since before it was a case. I couldn't figure out why the State didn't step in or the Feds. All these guys were missing was a mask and a gun. They did it publicly, and everyone knew about it. It was in the paper! The citizens were helpless to fix this, and the people with the power to help didn't.

October 07 2013 at 4:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Randy

Ah, yes. Another Democrat politician. I wish we could find just one...just one that wasn't corrupt.

October 07 2013 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
w.shaulis

don't worry he will get a slap on the wrist and given a big "NO NO" in a stern warning. he will be so bummed when he cashes his check,maybe wipe his tears with a hundred dollar bill.

October 07 2013 at 1:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to w.shaulis's comment
madlyfem

He will be lucky to get 20 years. That is the the least amount.

October 07 2013 at 4:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
itstaisan

Time to bring back Public Executions for these Thiefs

October 07 2013 at 1:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Christopher

obamacare will be just as abused by government officials as this guy has done to his local town

October 07 2013 at 1:01 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Taina

This is arrogance of the political elite. Washington DC has plenty of this too.

October 07 2013 at 12:48 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
oneshot5555

He is everything you deserve California!

October 07 2013 at 12:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to oneshot5555's comment
sexicalibunny

Clever response you hick

October 07 2013 at 1:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
savannahst262

That's less time than what the prosecutor's want to give Detroit former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. They want to give him up to 30 years. It will cost more to house him for that period of time than what they are getting out of it.
Although they all deserve what they get for making the city suffer and it will take years to recope all the losses.

October 07 2013 at 12:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mjoutfit

Here they were just about ready for seats in Congress and it all went down the drain because of a little investigation. Well, maybe he will have a shot at the House of Representatives when he gets out of the joint. He'd fit right in.

October 07 2013 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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