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Former City Manager Robert Rizzo among 8 Bell officials arrested

 Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo -– whose nearly $800,000 salary sparked widespread outrage and intense public scrutiny of city practices -– was among those arrested Tuesday morning in a sweep by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

No details have been released, but a source not authorized to speak publicly about the case said that Rizzo; former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia; Mayor Oscar Hernandez; Councilmembers Luis Artiga, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal; and former Councilmembers George Cole and Victor Bello were among those arrested.

For two months, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and state and federal authorities have investigated Bell, where high salaries for Rizzo and other top officials prompted calls for resignations. The Times reported last month that Rizzo was set to earn more than $1.5 million in 2010. Additionally, he gave loans totaling $1.6 million to more than 50 city officials, including himself.

Cooley has said his office is examining whether the various financial transactions in Bell amounted to thefts of public funds. The office is also looking into allegations of voter fraud and whether the high salaries earned by Rizzo and others were legal.

"This is the beginning of the healing process for our city," said Councilman Lorenzo Velez, the only council member not arrested Tuesday. "It's time to move forward and continue with the reforms we've been trying to set in place."

-- Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Robert Rizzo is taken into custody outside his Huntington Beach home Tuesday morning. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times; Below: Daily Pilot

Comments () | Archives (34)

Are they keeping their CALPERS pensions?

Maybe Rizzo can lose weight in jail. Justice is served.

Great, great news.

I hope the D.A. has his ducks in a row. I'd hate to see these crooks escape conviction because authorities rushed to make arrests, although it would never be too soon to see these folks behind bars!

Humpty-Dumpty in handcuffs. I shouldn't laugh.
The Times has been doing great work on these corruption stories. It's a wonder the cities got away with it so many decades.

Good! He's an embarrassment to all Italians, and to humanity in general!

The best picture of the year! Great work in arresting these alleged criminals!

Great work Times. Its stories like this that will make me subscribe to your paper.

Well at least we know where he (Rizzo) spent alot of his illegally found wealth, ...the Italian Deli becuase the brother has not missed any meals that"s for sure. .....while residents of Bell were tightening their belts financially , his was tightening literally !! Shameless is what this greedy slob is shameless

...and now Batman is without a nemesis in Gotham

It's Katamari! Roll Katamari, roll

The situation in the City of Bell demonstrated in the clearest terms possible why an independent press is essential. The LATimes is to be congratulated for devoting the time and resources to ferret out the criminal activity in Bell which otherwise would have continued indefinitely.
Kudus to Ruben Vives, Jeff Gottlieb, Hector Cecerra, Richard Winton, Scott Gold, Paul Pringle, Corina Knoll, Kim Christiensen, Evan Halper and others who have reminded us never assume that all elected officials have our best interests in mind.
You get my vote for a Pulitzer for a truly great series.

another pig at the trough.

Looks like Russo was paid by the pound which equals over $1,000 per pound. If he was paid by the cubic yard it is more palatable. Seriously, as despicable as these their acts were, they took advantage of the laws in place. the DA needs to be careful that public sentiment does not allow them to walk, or get totally off.

Dear LA Times,

Those are some great photos of Rizzo getting hauled off in cuffs. How I hope more corrupt politicians get the same treatment!

I note that this blog entry doesn't mention the party affiliation of Robert Rizzo. A rumor is going around that he is a Democrat. Is this true? What about the other seven officials that were arrested? What are their party affiliations? It seems relevant to the story, and the current mood of the electorate.



doesn't look like he's missed a meal in quite a while...i wonder how he will like prison food? i hope the legal proceedings puts this thief in the poor house along with the other politicians...time to look into all their dealings...free tickets is a good place to start...contributions from developers is another...i just wonder how many of these alleged criminals are lawyers?

oh...and isn't it hilarious how he lives in huntington beach in a million dollar home...what happened to bell rizzo...not ratzo enough for rizzzzzzzzzzzzzzo!!!

What about the chief of police for Bell? I don't care if he resigned he took the money just like they did.

Good job, LA Times, for pursuing this story. As for Rizzo and company: Sha na na, sha na na na, hey hey, goodbye.

now if this had been the average everyday person geting arrested Tuesday morning, the only thing that would beat them to the penitentary would be the headlights on the bus come Tuesday night.

Everyone keeps asking why the Chief of Police wasn't arrested. It's quite simple. If they can't connect him with any wrong doing, they won't arrest him. Look at it this way. You apply and get for a job sweeping a 12x18 floor every day for some company. The salary is $100,000.00 annual. Every day you come to work and sweep that floor. You do this faithfully for about 1 year, then someone assigns you a truck so you can be on call. After about 2 years, someone investigates and states you shouldn't be getting paid all that money to sweep one floor. Did you do anything wrong that would warrant your getting arrested? Well, maybe there's no way to prove the police chief did either. Any taking advantage of a high salary isn't illegal, if you actually work to earn the salary. Just saying. . . .

Good riddance.

not illegal for the police chief to be overpaid, as long as he didn't do it illegally.

Handsome fella. I wonder if he did any modeling in college?

Bell is not the only city with filthy corrupt city officials. The theft, cheats, fraud and plain incompetence of city officials (?) are rampant. How come the residents, citizens just don't care? This makes the worse mockery of democracy.

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