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Former Bell City Administrator Rizzo faces two more charges [Updated]

October 21, 2010 |  9:14 am

Prosecutors filed two new charges against former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo on Thursday as he and seven other current and former city officials appeared in court for arraignment on public corruption charges.

Rizzo, 56, is already facing 53 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest and falsification of documents, including allegations that he wrote his employment contract without council approval. Of those counts, 44 involve the misappropriation of more than $2.5 million in public funds, including awarding $1.9 million in unauthorized loans to himself, city employees and two council members.

He faces one additional count each of conflict of interest and misappropriation of funds for a value exceeding $1.3 million. If he is convicted of the second count, Rizzo would have to provide a DNA sample.

[Updated at 9:18 a.m.: The new charges are in connection to Dennis Tarango, the city's privately contracted planning director. The city has paid Tarango's engineering firms more than $10.4 million since 1995. Tarango is also a business partner with Rizzo in a horse-racing venture.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jennifer Lentz Snyder said it was a conflict of interest because Rizzo could not  influence a decision in which he may have had a financial stake. Tarango is not a public offical and will not be charged, she said.]

The other defendants include former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, councilmembers Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabel, and former councilmembers Luis Artiga, Victor Bello and George Cole. Mirabal and Bello remain in custody. The others have posted bail.

-- Corina Knoll and Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo heads into Los Angeles Superior Court for his arraignment Thursday morning. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times