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Rizzo says Bell owes him more money and should still be paying his salary

October 7, 2010 |  4:50 pm

The city of Bell agreed to provide Robert Rizzo with a severance and other benefits when he resigned earlier this summer but has since reneged on the deal, his attorney claimed Thursday.

As a result, attorney James Spertus said, the longtime city manager is due back pay, and Spertus added that the city is violating state labor laws by not paying his salary.

The allegations threaten to add another potentially costly battle for the struggling city, which is operating with the majority of its council members facing criminal charges and trying to deal with losses in revenue from taxes the state has determined were illegally charged to residents.

Little is known about the closed-door discussions in July that led to the resignation of Rizzo and other top administrators after The Times revealed huge salaries that Rizzo and other top city officials received. Rizzo was set to earn more than $1.5 million in compensation this year, making him one of the highest-paid municipal officials in the nation.

Rizzo and seven other city leaders were charged last month with public corruption.

Since he resigned, Rizzo has also requested that the city pay his legal bills.

Jamie Casso, Bell’s acting city attorney, declined to comment on Spertus’ claims, saying it was a personnel matter.

Councilman Lorenzo Velez, the only sitting Bell council member not charged with a crime, said the council did not give Rizzo any deals when he stepped down.

“He resigned without severance pay,” Velez said, adding: “I will not even give [him] a penny cut in half.”

Some community activists said it was outrageous for Rizzo to demand more money from the city and urged city officials to take a hard line.

“This is Rizzo’s way of spiting us,” said Nestor Valencia, a community activist. “The city will now have to get a lawyer and fight him on this. He’s literally just abusing us more.”

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives

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