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Former Bell leaders ordered to stand trial

Former Bell leaders Robert Rizzo and his assistant Angela Spaccia in court on Mar. 10.

A judge Thursday ordered former Bell chief administrator Robert Rizzo and his assistant Angela Spaccia to stand trial on charges they looted the city treasury by writing lucrative employment contracts without Bell City Council approval.

Arraignment for former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo, his former deputy Angela Spaccia and two other former officials was scheduled for March 24.

Rizzo and seven other former Bell officials were arrested in September as part of a corruption and salary scandal that has rocked the working-class city.

Rizzo and Spaccia are accused of writing their own employment contracts, making them among the most highly paid city administrators in the country.

During a hearing Wednesday, Rizzo's attorney James Spertus asked the judge to focus on the charges and not the prosecutor's "sensationalism."

"The people are, with dramatic flair, trying to deflect the spotlight from the charges that they have to prove," Spertus said.

He also argued that the city's charter granted Rizzo the power to authorize loans, which were made available to city employees who used vacation and sick days as collateral. "Nobody was trying to hide this from anybody," Spertus said. "It's not a misappropriation of funds to give an employee their own money."

Rizzo is the sole defendant in the final hearing, in which he is accused of conflict of interest for his dealings with Dennis Tarango, who served as Bell's privately contracted planning director. The two once owned racehorses together. The city has paid Tarango's firms $10.4 million since 1995, according to the state controller's office.

In all, Rizzo was charged with more than 50 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest and falsification of documents.

Former Councilman Luis Artiga, who resigned after his arrest, and Mayor Oscar Hernandez, who was recalled by voters on Tuesday, are also defendants. They are charged because they received loans.

RELATED:

Newly elected Bell council members pledge to sweep out City Hall

Former Bell Councilman Victor Bello posts bail, released from jail

New Bell council must act quickly to avoid insolvency; big budget cuts likely

-- Corina Knoll at Los Angeles County Superior Court

Photo: Former Bell leaders Robert Rizzo and Angela Spaccia in court on Thursday. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (9)

"Your sin will find you out." Numbers 32:23 - Jesus forgives Sins, however you must live with their consequences. I pray for the City of Bell to grow stronger, they showed the World that we must all keep our Cities Accountable.. Bravo

I wonder if Angela Spaccia has called her personal media outlet Fox News 11 to set up another "I'm a good person, all I ever wanted to do was serve the people of Bell" EXCLUSIVE interview now that she needs to poison the jury pool again.

Bobby,

This is not a good sign.


Not much else to say other than it's gonan be a circus, even moreso than it already is, if that's even possible.

Fat boy is gonna get his just desserts. So is his servant, Spaccia.

Let's see, in California some "Liberal Judge" will give them a slap on the hand and 5 years probation. Oh and yes they will keep the money they were paid and their pension benefits!

The State of Ca has no interest in convicting these crooks because similar crooks exist throught the state, and their tenticles run deep into state gov. (Sactown).

If the State were serious about convicting these two they would hold two separate trials. the state will certainly loose the first, but they may get a conviction on the second, learning from their mistakes... OJ would have been convicted this way.

As much as I would like to see Fat Rizzo and Angela Spaccia convicted, I honestly feel that they are going to get away with it in the end.

I have lost any faith I might have had in the justice system.

Nonetheless seeing these two criminals(that is what they are) behind bars would perhaps restore my faith in the justice system.

But I doubt it.

Have a nice day. Gonzalo Speaks.

The outrage at these crooks is absolutely justified! The lack of outrage at the bankers and investment bankers responsible for much of the financial meltdown is baffling.

The outrage at these crooks is absolutely justified! The lack of outrage at the bankers and investment bankers responsible for much of the financial meltdown is baffling.

It not hard to understand when you concede that the banks were just doing what the federal government ORDERED them to do: give mortgages to unqualified buyers.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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