Bell: Rizzo sentencing postponed; attorneys want to question him

Sentencing for former longtime Bell city administrator Robert Rizzo was postponed Wednesday but not before attorneys for the city and his former assistant said they intend to subpoena him to find out the inner details of the public corruption in the small Los Angeles County city.

Rizzo, who remains free on bond, was ordered to return to court April 16, when it is expected he will be sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison.


Less clear is whether he will be permitted to serve the time concurrently with a federal sentence for filing false tax returns.

An attorney representing Angela Spaccia, Bell's former second-in-command, said outside court that he intends to subpoena Rizzo so that he can question the former city administrator about the wrongdoing in Bell.

Spaccia, who is in custody, was convicted late last year on 11 corruption charges and is set to be sentenced March 21. She faces more than 12 years in prison.

Bell's city attorney also said he wanted to question Rizzo about the roots of the corruption in Bell and help determine the extent of restitution that Rizzo should be ordered to pay the city.

Rizzo had an annual compensation package of nearly $1.5 million by the time he was forced from power in 2010 and was in line to be the highest paid public pensioner in California when he retired.

The trapping of Rizzo's high-salary days — the horse ranch, the house by the beach and the stable of racehorses — are now gone, but Rizzo will continue to receive an annual $116,000 pension and has a 401(k)-style retirement account that once held in excess of $1 million.

Rizzo pleaded no contest to 69 felony corruption charges in October and agreed to serve 10 to 12 years in state prison, which Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey described as the largest ever in an L.A. County public corruption case.

Rizzo was the most prominent of eight city leaders arrested in the sprawling corruption case that left Bell on the edge of bankruptcy.

In addition to Rizzo and Spaccia, six former city council members were charged with raiding the city treasury by paying themselves for serving on boards that rarely, if ever, met. Five of the council members were convicted; one was acquitted. None have been sentenced.