BELL, Calif. (CBS/AP) — A preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Monday for former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo and former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, who are charged with misappropriation of public funds.
Rizzo is accused of presiding over a working-class suburb of Los Angeles as if it were his own personal fiefdom, buying off the city council with six-figure salaries and falsifying documents to hide his own enormous pay.
Prosecutors say he masterminded a scheme that looted more than $5.5 million from the city of Bell, driving it to the brink of bankruptcy.
Rizzo, Bell’s longtime city manager until he was fired last year, has pleaded not guilty to than 50 counts of misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest and falsifying public records.
Rizzo, who had an annual salary and compensation package of $1.5 million, is free on $2 million bail. His attorney, James Spertus, says Rizzo committed no crime in accepting a salary that outraged the public after it was reported by the Los Angeles Times last summer.
Scheduled to appear with Rizzo at the hearing are Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former Councilman Luis Artiga and former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia.
Spaccia is charged with four counts of misappropriation of public funds, and Hernandez and Artiga are charged with illegally accepting loans of city money from Rizzo that authorities say he was not authorized to make.
After a similar hearing last week, Hernandez, Artiga and four other current and former Bell officials were ordered to stand trial on nearly two dozen counts of taking annual salaries of about $100,000 a year.
The money included council salaries 20 times more than what is allowed by law, Hall said, as well as money paid for service on phantom commissions that did no work.
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