Robert Rizzo sues Bell, says city had no 'cause' to fire him
Rizzo, who was ousted from his post last year over revelations that he was collecting a salary of nearly $800,000 to oversee the day-to-day operations of the small, working-class community in southeast Los Angeles County, accused the city of breach of contract in a suit filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is representing himself in the suit.
He is suing for back wages dating to July 2010, when the City Council responded to public outrage over Rizzo's pay by locking him out of his office and stopping his pay, according to the suit.
The lawsuit notes that Rizzo's employment agreement was an "evergreen contract" subject to continuous renewals unless one of the parties gave 90-day notice. He claimed that the city did not give him 90-day notice and that he never resigned his post.
The suit also alleges that the city did not have "cause" to fire Rizzo, who faces a lengthy list of criminal charges over his use of public funds, because he has not been convicted.
"Rizzo has not been convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude, or at all. As such, the city did not have and does not have 'cause' to terminate Rizzo under the agreement," the complaint said.
A Los Angeles County judge in May threw out a civil suit filed against Rizzo and other Bell officials filed last year by then-Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, but they still face criminal charges for misappropriation of funds.
-- Abby Sewell
Photo: Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo is arrested by police at his Huntington Beach home on Sept. 21, 2010. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times