TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Corrupt Calif. municipal official pleads no contest, expects long prison term

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 8:27 p.m.
 

LOS ANGELES — A disgraced former city manager accused of masterminding a brazen municipal corruption scandal pleaded no contest on Thursday to 69 counts of fraud, misappropriation of public funds and other charges.

Robert Rizzo was charged with stealing more than $5 million from the modest, blue-collar city of Bell, where one in four people live below the federal poverty line.

“Mr. Rizzo is trying to send a clear message that he accepts responsibility for wrongdoing,” said his attorney, James Spertus. “He made mistakes, and he's trying to make amends for that.”

Rizzo became the face of a widespread city government scandal after it was revealed in 2010 that he was giving himself an annual salary and benefits package of $1.5 million. His $800,000 in wages alone was double that of the president of the United States.

When he was arrested, he was living in an expensive home in the upscale oceanfront community of Huntington Beach and owned a thoroughbred horse ranch in Washington state. He posted $2 million bail to get out of jail.

Authorities said he paid most members of the city council some $100,000 a year, even though the panel meets only about twice a month to handle matters for the city of about 35,000 people.

Rizzo, 59, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 12 and expected to be sent to prison for 10 to 12 years.

Spertus said Rizzo expects to plead guilty to federal tax charges and resolve a lawsuit filed by the state attorney's general.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Attorneys: Sterilizations were part of plea deal talks
  2. Mysteries of dark matter come to light in Science study
  3. Republican presidential hopefuls near-unanimity on the issue of their own guns
  4. Christie rails against high N.J. estate tax
  5. Run from Cuba, Americans cling to claims for seized property
  6. Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
  7. Gun used by agent who helped jail Capone headed to museum
  8. American crash victims: U.S. government contractor, daughter
  9. Sen. Reid follows same old script for Democrats as he endorses Schumer as successor
  10. 3 Illinois state workers seek to join Rauner lawsuit over union dues
  11. Indiana religious objection bill clears state Senate, worrying gay rights advocates