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Bell 8: Rizzo rushed to hospital with chest pains during break in court hearing [Updated]

February 23, 2011 |  1:05 pm

Robert Rizzo with Angela Spaccia, left.

Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo was rushed to a local hospital Wednesday after experiencing chest pains during a lunch break in the ongoing court hearing that will determine whether he will stand trial for public corruption.

Rizzo's immediate condition was not clear, but his attorney, James Spertus, denied initial reports that the former city leader had collapsed.

The courtroom had cleared for lunch and Rizzo was sitting on a bench in the hallway near a restroom when he began to experience light-headedness and chest pains, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Donna Gannon, a longtime Bell resident who was attending the hearing, said paramedics brought Rizzo out of the courthouse on a gurney with a towel over his face.

Los Angeles city fire officials confirmed they had taken a 50-year-old male from the courthouse to Good Samaritan Hospital but would not confirm it was Rizzo.

Spertus said he expected that the criminal hearing would be adjourned for the day but would not know until court resumes Wednesday afternoon.

Rizzo has been the face of the salary scandal in Bell, which resulted in eight former and current city leaders being charged with misappropriation of public funds.

[Updated 2:05 p.m. Court has been adjourned for the day because of Rizzo's medical emergency.

There was little discussion of the episode after court reconvened following a noon break.

"I understand Mr. Rizzo has become ill," Judge Henry J. Hall said.]


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-- Corina Knoll, Jeff Gottlieb, Andrew Blankstein and Ruben Vives

Photo: Robert Rizzo with former assistant Angela Spaccia, also a defendant, at Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times