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Bell subpoenas Rizzo's personal e-mail account to see if he was using it to conduct city business

September 3, 2010 |  1:14 pm


Bell city leaders said they suspect former City Administrator Robert Rizzo conducted city business using his own personal e-mail account and have issued subpoenas to obtain copies of messages going back five years.

City officials said they learned in recent days that Rizzo apparently was using his own e-mail account, under the domain "rarizzoinc.com," to conduct city business and correspond with other city officials, employees and others in the small, working-class city.

Meeting in closed session early Friday, the City Council also announced that it would cancel its contract to essentially run the day-to-day business of neighboring Maywood. Maywood took the unusual step earlier this summer to disband its police force, terminate most city workers and asked Bell to take over operation of the city.

But since that deal was made, Bell has imploded in a scandal over the enormous salaries paid to top administrators and is now being investigated for its high salaries, possible election fraud and improper business dealing by both the Los Angeles County district attorney's and California attorney general's office.

Rizzo, along with the police chief and the assistant city manager, stepped down earlier this summer after their salaries were reported by The Times. The assistant city manager had also served as Maywood's interim city manager, a post she also quit.

The City Council announced Friday that it would terminate its contract with Maywood in 30 days. It was not immediately clear what would happen in Maywood, which took the drastic step after losing its insurance. Maywood City Hall is closed Fridays.

The decision to seek the e-mails comes after reports that Rizzo may have made city loans of nearly $400,000 to two businesses without public notice or council approval.

Under Bell's city charter, the city has the power to subpoena Rizzo's correspondence as part of a city investigation, the city council said.

Rizzo was ordered to appear in person and produce copies of the e-mails by the next City Council meeting, scheduled Sept. 20.

-- Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Bell resident Miguel Contreras vents his anger after a meeting of the Bell City Council on Friday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times