Federal prosecutors have recommended that former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo go to prison for nearly three years when he is sentenced on tax fraud charges Monday, saying his conduct is “clearly more egregious than that of many other tax violators who do not hold public office and who do not steal public monies.”
This begins a momentous week for Rizzo, with the big day being Wednesday, when he is scheduled to be sentenced on 69 felonies related to the Bell scandal. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy is expected to sentence Rizzo to 10 to 12 years in prison after he pleaded no contest to the charges in October. Kennedy has said Rizzo could serve his term concurrent with his federal time.
Chief U.S. District Judge George King, who will sentence Rizzo on the tax charges, is not bound by any agreement, although the federal probation office recommended that the sentence be served concurrently.
Rizzo pleaded guilty in January to one count each of conspiracy to commit tax fraud and making a false income tax return. He faces a maximum of eight years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Federal prosecutors have recommended he be sentenced to 33 months in prison.
Rizzo “abused his position to fleece the City of Bell of hundreds of thousands of dollars that he paid himself in excessive salary -- monies that could have been spent for the benefit of the people of the city he served,” the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memorandum said. “But not satisfied with betraying the trust placed in him by the city and its residents, in an extraordinary display of greed, defendant also found it necessary to cheat the IRS.”
According to court documents, Rizzo claimed more than $770,000 in phony losses, mostly on his horse ranch outside Seattle, which he falsely said was rental property.
Angela Spaccia, Bell’s former assistant city manager, who was sentenced last week to 11 years, eight months in prison for her role in the Bell corruption scandal, is mentioned prominently in the federal charging documents as “A.S.” but has not been charged. James Spertus, Rizzo’s attorney, has said she would be indicted.
Accountant Robert J. Melcher pleaded guilty in February 2013 to aiding and abetting the filing of a false tax return as part of the scheme.