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Former City Manager Robert Rizzo among 8 Bell officials arrested

September 21, 2010 |  9:54 am

 Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo -– whose nearly $800,000 salary sparked widespread outrage and intense public scrutiny of city practices -– was among those arrested Tuesday morning in a sweep by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

No details have been released, but a source not authorized to speak publicly about the case said that Rizzo; former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia; Mayor Oscar Hernandez; Councilmembers Luis Artiga, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal; and former Councilmembers George Cole and Victor Bello were among those arrested.

For two months, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and state and federal authorities have investigated Bell, where high salaries for Rizzo and other top officials prompted calls for resignations. The Times reported last month that Rizzo was set to earn more than $1.5 million in 2010. Additionally, he gave loans totaling $1.6 million to more than 50 city officials, including himself.

Cooley has said his office is examining whether the various financial transactions in Bell amounted to thefts of public funds. The office is also looking into allegations of voter fraud and whether the high salaries earned by Rizzo and others were legal.

"This is the beginning of the healing process for our city," said Councilman Lorenzo Velez, the only council member not arrested Tuesday. "It's time to move forward and continue with the reforms we've been trying to set in place."

-- Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Robert Rizzo is taken into custody outside his Huntington Beach home Tuesday morning. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times; Below: Daily Pilot