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All eight in Bell corruption case appear in court; Rizzo held in medical facility, attorney says [Updated]

Rizzo Dressed in various shades of jail-issued clothing, eight current and former Bell city officials appeared in court Wednesday morning but did not enter pleas in a sweeping public-corruption case.

An attorney for former City Administrator Robert Rizzo disclosed that his client has been in a jail medical facility and that he has been unable to review the array of felony charges with his client. Rizzo is charged with 53 counts of misappropriation of public funds, falsification of documents and conflict of interest.

Two other defendants, Councilman Luis Artiga and former Councilman George Cole, are poised to post bail, their attorneys said. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said it was satisfied that both had met the requirement of proving their bail money is not coming from ill-gotten income.

Another defendant, Teresa Jacobo, also satisfied the DA’s requirement but requested a reduction in her $260,000 bail, an indication that she was unable to post that amount.

The other defendants, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Councilman George Mirabal and former Councilman Victor Bello, also requested bail-reduction hearings.

[Updated at 12:49 p.m.: Stanley Friedman, an attorney for Hernandez and Bello, said he expects both to make bail. "They are disappointed the charges were filed. They are disappointed they were arrested," he said.

Friedman said at a bail hearing Wednesday afternoon that he will challenge the district attorney's argument that income his clients received from the city cannot be used to post bail.

Russell Petit, an attorney for Spaccia, said three of four charges against his client involved loans she repaid.]

The arraignments, in which the city leaders would enter pleas, were postponed until Oct. 21.

The public-corruption case follows months of outrage and debate over public-employee compensation since The Times reported in July that Bell's leaders were among the nation's highest-paid municipal officials.

In filing the case, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley described Rizzo as the "unelected and unaccountable czar" of Bell, accusing him of going to elaborate lengths to keep his salary secret.

Prosecutors allege that Rizzo gave himself huge pay raises without the City Council's approval.

"This was calculated greed and theft accomplished by deceit and secrecy," Cooley said.

Rizzo's compensation package was the most extreme example of the huge paychecks earned by elected leaders and city administrator, Cooley said. Rizzo had an annual salary and benefits totaling more than $1.5 million.

Prosecutors accused him of illegally writing his own employment contracts and steering nearly $1.9 million in unauthorized city loans to himself and others.

Of the eight current and former city leaders now facing charges, Rizzo’s bail is also the highest -- $3.2 million.

Rizzo's attorney, James W. Spertus, said the charges came as no surprise and were politically motivated by Cooley, who is running for California attorney general.

"The allegations are mistaken," Spertus said. "They are factually untrue in many readily provable ways."

Cooley denied that his election effort played any part in the decision to file charges.

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday, where his bail has been set at $3.2 million. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Photos: Arrests in Bell

Comments () | Archives (19)

1000's of more city crooks to go....

from the la weekly:

It is time L A Weekly took a close look at the relationship betweeen Steve Cooley and Randy Adams, the million dollar chief of Bell. It is interesting how Adams escaped the long dick of the law in Bell. Cooley knew about Adams over a year ago with Jim Corocran went to the DA - and yet Cooley did NOT open an investigation. In FACT Cooley called Adams and let him know that Jim had spilled the beans. I tought Cooley was a strait up guy until now. He is no better than Garcetti or Reiner. Why can't LA get a decent man to run the D A s office?

We have been involved in city government for years. We have been lied to and stonewalled by Rizzo and the council. We went to Cooley TWO YEARS AGO and he DID NOTHING! Why? Because he didn't want to embarass his good buddy Randy Adams' sweetheart employment deal in Bell. Cooley - YOU ARE LYING!

LOL. This is how Democrats reward failure, which is defined as getting caught.

That looks like the penguin from BATMAN??


I only counted 7 clown faces in the front page picture - where's the 8th?

Let him serve time if he's convicted, and return the money he stole to the citizens from it was stolen.

Yep. The worst part is that these crooks are being pushed out by another set of crooks.

The city is still in the hands of a city manager that was hired by Rizzo, given jobs by Cole, and went on TV to defend the salaries of the four council members that are now in Jail. Yes, HE is the one "cleaning up" the mess.


"An attorney for former City Administrator Robert Rizzo disclosed that his client has been in a jail medical facility..."
Oh puhleeze, fatboy's already playing his medical sympathy card.
Watch, next move is to convince the court that this "sick" individual can best be served by resting at home and taking control of his "health problems" outside the confines of stressful incarceration."
Then, request OR release (how can such a sick man be considered a flight risk?) or reduction of bail and an "ankle bracelet."

So why is the chief law enforcement officer of Bell, who is still collecting more in salary and benefits than the head of the FBI, getting a pass. Cooley admits he is a close personal friend of his, and Brown is getting huge campaign contributions from the police unions. Could there possibly be a connection?

While this case will be a criminal one at this point, occupational fraud may be civil or criminal. Organizations that are victims of occupational fraud may also seek damages in civil court as well as turning the case over to prosecutors.

Police Chief and free of charges Randy Adams; enjoying his $457,000 salary entitled under state law? $457,000? OMG, is this a Double Standard or what?

Now I know where Warrant got their inspiration for the cover of their "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" album.

Whay can't the Bell circus act get the same as these guys in San Bernardino got.
Article below
C. Steven Cox, the founder of what was once the largest string of charter schools in the state, has had to rely on the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s office after his assets were frozen when he and former Hesperia mayor Tad Honeycutt were indicted in September 2007. They face a total of 117 felony charges between them related to alleged illegal transactions between the CCA and a for-profit subsidiary run by Honeycutt

The Clownsta

People like the officials in the little community of Bell are why I could support capital punishment. They are Bernie Madoff as a city council member,

What about the ex-chief of police of Bell. Why was he not charged too? Is he a friend of Steve Cooley?

Rot. You bought and paid for this. There are no tears for you.

I hope the people of Bell have learned their lesson. If you look down your nose at politics and claim that they are all crooks, that's exactly what you will get. You must be vigilant and watchful to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. Get involved and stay involved.

When California's Dept of Justice wants to really get serious about corruption they'll ask me for the boxes of evidence I have against the CEO of Sun Healthcare Group Inc. I sued an attorney for malpractice after he conspired with him against me to defraud me out of wrongful death of my mother, Evelyn Calvert, whom he killed in 2003 in a Sunbridge nursing home in Newport Beach, California, from his inaction after Dolores Otting and I pleaded for his help to fix known broken equipment and staff according to state law.

Read the evidence for yourself at www.sunhealthcaregroupinc.blogspot.com

Deb Calvert, Newport Beach, California

Who approved the contracts. Cooley talks about falsifying signatures. Someone better check to see if the signatures approving all of these funds matches Cooley's. Cooley is just as corrupt and probably signed off on these contracts. I would like to see Cooley in orange clothes as Rizzo's cell mate. They look like each other too.


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