Disgraced Ex-City Manager Of Bell Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison
The former city manager of Bell, who was caught putting his hand in the cookie jar in a big way, was sentenced today to 12 years in state prison.
Robert Rizzo, 60, was the mastermind behind a scheme that swindled the working-class city of Bell out of millions. Last October, he pleaded no contest to 69 felony counts including conspiracy to commit misappropriation, misappropriation of public funds, perjury, falsification of public records and conflict of interest.
"Mr. Rizzo, you did some very, very bad things for a very long time," Judge Kennedy told Rizzo in court, according to City News Service.
Rizzo was also ordered to pay $8.8 million in restitution back to the city. He has already paid the city back $242,719.56, reported KABC, so that means he has just $8.6 million to go. His underling, former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia was sentenced last Wednesday to 11 years and eight months in prison, has to pay $8.2 million in restitution.
Kennedy called Rizzo a "godfather of sorts" for his laundry list of crimes. Rizzo was originally hired by Bell in 1994. He went from being paid $300,000 in 2004 to bringing home $800,000 by the time he was forced to resign in July 2010. He also had plans to pay himself out $8 million in a secret pension fund from the city when he retired. On top of that, he gave unauthorized loans to himself and his favorite employees out of the city's pocket.
Kennedy allowed Rizzo, who was sentenced to 33 months for income tax evasion charges, to serve both sentences concurrently, according the Times. She set his bail at $3 million, but allowed him to be free until May 30 when he starts his sentence. Spaccia, on the other hand, was shackled immediately and taken to prison after her sentencing.
Five former city council members involved in the corruption scheme—former Mayor Oscar Hernandez and council members Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal and George Cole—took a plea deal last week for a maximum sentencing of four years in prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Before sentencing Rizzo told Kennedy: "I did breach the public confidence. I am very, very sorry and I apologize for that."