Robert Rizzo ordered Bell salary documents falsified, city clerk testifies
Bell's city clerk testified Thursday that former City Administrator Robert Rizzo directed her to hand over false figures about council salaries to a resident who asked for the information.
Testimony from Rebecca Valdez came during the preliminary hearing for six former and current Bell City Council members accused of being paid for serving on city boards that seldom or never met -- or, when they did, for just a few minutes.
The resident who requested the information, Roger Ramirez, had filed a public records request in 2008. The document indicates that council members received $673 a month -- about $8,000 a year – instead of the $92,000 annually they received when including salaries from city boards and commissions.
Valdez testified that after Ramirez made his request, she copied council members' personal action reports, which gave their true salaries.
"When I showed it to [Rizzo] for review, he didn't want me to give that to them," Valdez said.
She said Rizzo called Lourdes Garcia, the city's finance director, into his office. Valdez left, and Garcia later gave her the memo with the false information.
The memo also vastly underreported Rizzo's salary. It said he was being paid $15,478 a month, or $185,736 a year. At the time, he was earning $632,700 a year, not counting the numerous weeks of vacation and sick pay he cashed out annually.
Rizzo has been charged with falsifying public records to keep his lucrative salary secret. His preliminary hearing could start next week. He faces more than 50 corruption charges.
-- Jeff Gottlieb and Corina Knoll (@corinaknoll)
Photo: Rebecca Valdez in 2010. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times