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Robert Rizzo’s pension cut to $50,000 from $650,000 by CalPERS

August 9, 2011 |  8:50 am

Robert Rizzo had his pension reduced

Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo was once among the nation's most highly compensated public officials, and in retirement, he was set to collect a pension of at least $650,000 a year. But now he will collect only $50,000 annually under the drastically reduced pension determined by the California Public Employees Retirement System.

The state retirement system slashed the benefits of Rizzo and several other Bell officials after an audit determined that their salaries had been incorrectly reported.

Rizzo, who once earned $800,000 a year in salary, is now set to receive a $50,000 annual pension. Before, he had been poised to get $650,000 a year from CalPERS and more than $1 million annually overall when a second pension from the city was included. The pension of his assistant, Angela Spaccia, was slashed from a projected $250,000 to $43,000, according to documents obtained by The Times under the California Public Records Act.

Former council members, who each made nearly $100,000 a year, should also have their retirement payments reduced to between $1,000 and $2,000 a year. One longtime former councilman, George Cole, will receive about $4,000 a year and must now pay back a large undisclosed sum to CalPERS, agency spokesman Brad Pacheco said.

Attorneys for several of the Bell officials said they plan to appeal the reductions.

In addition to the audit into Bell, CalPERS has embarked on a systematic review of public pensions and high salaries. So far, the state retirement board has reviewed 2,250 retirement payments and found that 329 needed to be reduced, mostly because employers incorrectly reported employees' pay

"We're certainly being more vigilant around compensation issues," Pacheco said.

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-- Ruben Vives

Photo:  Angela Spaccia and Robert Rizzo at their preliminary hearing on March 7. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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