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Bell's Robert Rizzo insists he did nothing wrong

August 22, 2010 |  9:01 am

CoupleFormer Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, who resigned last month after The Times disclosed his base salary of nearly $800,000, is still defending himself and says he did nothing wrong.

TalkBackLAOn a recent morning at his Washington horse ranch, he sought to justify his salary -- the subject of civil and criminal investigations -- by remarking that although it might look astounding, it wasn't so dramatic, considering his length of service.

"Yeah, the money went bad," he said. "But when you think about it, the 17 years I had been there, that's $250,000 a year."

In a profile by The Times' Paul Pringle, Corina Knoll and Kim Murphy, new details emerge about Rizzo's side business in the horse industry. Rizzo has held title to about three dozen horses since his pay began soaring, according to thoroughbred industry databases. He conducted his racing business through at least three firms he launched and bought a $930,000 ranch in 2004 in Auburn, Wash., southeast of Seattle, a getaway from his similarly valued home in Huntington Beach, state and county records show.

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-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo with his wife in 2007. Credit: Family photo