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Robert Rizzo's bid to have Bell pay legal costs denied by judge

July 26, 2011 |  1:18 pm

Robert Rizzo in court last March.

A judge on Tuesday denied a motion by Bell’s former top administrator that would have required the city to cover his legal costs.

In an order released Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Ralph W. Dau said the issues raised in the motion, which include whether Robert Rizzo acted beyond the normal course of his employment, should be decided at trial.

In addition to numerous criminal charges related to misappropriation of public funds in Bell, Rizzo is being sued by the city, which wants him to pay back part of his hefty salary and drastically amend the pension benefits he’s claimed.

“The irony of Rizzo moving to seek a defense and indemnity for the millions of dollars we’re accusing him of stealing from the city is just ironic beyond all proportions,” said Deborah Fox, an attorney for the city.

“You hire someone to be your [chief administrative officer] and you don’t anticipate that they’re going to rob you blind … and then ask you to reimburse them,” she said.

A call to Rizzo’s attorney for comment was not immediately returned.

Before he was forced out, Rizzo was earning about $1.5 million a year in total compensation in one of Los Angeles County’s poorest cities. He was in line to become the state’s highest public pensioner.

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-- Paloma Esquivel

Photo: Robert Rizzo in court last March. Credit: Mark Boster

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