Local News in Brief : Santa Ana : Reputed Crime Figure in Court, but No Plea

Reputed organized crime figure Michael Anthony Rizzitello appeared in court Thursday for arraignment on attempted murder, mayhem and other charges but did not enter a plea because he had no attorney present.

Rizzitello, 61, of Los Angeles is accused of shooting a principal investor in the Mustang Bar in Santa Ana in a bid to control alleged illegal activity there. He is expected to be arraigned today before Orange County Municipal Judge Richard W. Stanford Jr.

Stanford ordered Rizzitello held without bail. He was returned to County Jail.

His arrest Monday night--along with that of his alleged accomplice--Joseph Angelo Grosso, 45, of Newport Beach--ended a 17-month inquiry by investigators of the Orange County district attorney’s office, Costa Mesa and Los Angeles police departments and the FBI.


Prosecutors allege that on April 30, 1987, Rizzitello fired three shots into the head of William C. Carroll, 56, of Santa Ana. The topless club was later destroyed in two arson fires. Carroll remains permanently blinded by the attack and is being kept in secret protective custody.

Grosso pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of attempted murder, mayhem and other counts in the shooting. Carroll has told investigators that Grosso, a close associate of Rizzitello, held his legs down as Rizzitello shot him in a parking garage near South Coast Plaza, according to court documents.

Grosso is being held at County Jail without bail pending his preliminary hearing Nov. 8.