Former Bell city manager arrested


HUNTINGTON BEACH — The Bell City Hall pay scandal touched down in Orange County on Tuesday, when former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo was arrested at his home.

Silent and with his head down, Rizzo, 56, was taken from his home in handcuffs Tuesday morning, one of eight current or former Bell city officials accused of misappropriating funds by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Rizzo is charged with 53 counts of conflicts of interest and misappropriating $5.5 million in city funds.

He was escorted by Los Angeles County district attorney investigators just after 10 a.m. Authorities waited inside Rizzo’s house as he got ready to leave. He was wearing a dark blue polo shirt and black slacks and declined to comment on the charges. When he got inside the unmarked SUV waiting to take him to jail, he just looked up, closed his eyes and said nothing.

Rizzo was the face of Bell city officials abusing public funds, with a nearly $800,000 salary, putting him among the highest paid city managers in the nation.

Prosecutors said in 1994 he gave himself and other city officials $1.9 million in unauthorized loans and beginning in 2008, Rizzo wrote his own employee contracts and didn’t get them approved by the City Council.

Authorities arrested seven other officials as well, including former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia and Mayor Oscar Hernandez. Bell council members are also accused of paying themselves thousands in weekly salaries for sitting on four boards that held monthly meetings that sometimes lasted only minutes.

Rizzo is being held in lieu of $3.2 million bail. Arraignment for the city leaders, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed to Oct. 21, according to the Los Angeles Times.