LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The former manager of the city of Bell says he should be reimbursed for legal fees spent defending himself against charges of defrauding taxpayers out of millions of dollars.
Newly-filed court papers show Robert Rizzo, who is presently defending three actions on his own consisting of two civil cases and a felony complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office, wants a declaration from a judge that Rizzo filed his initial court documents seeking indemnification from the city last October.
On Tuesday, he filed more than 400 pages of additional papers in support of his request.
“All of the claims triggered a defense obligation from the city of Bell under Mr. Rizzo’s employment agreement and Mr. Rizzo tendered the claims to the city for a defense, but the tenders were all denied by the city,” Rizzo’s new court papers state.
A hearing on Rizzo’s request is scheduled June 10.
Rizzo’s 1996 employment agreement with the blue-collar community entitles him to the payments, but city officials denied the request, according to his court papers.
Former Bell City Attorney Edward Lee confirmed during deposition testimony in December that he drafted the defense clause in Rizzo’s contract and that it was intended to indemnify the former city manager “against anya type of claim,” according to Rizzo’s new court papers.
Rizzo is considered the ringleader among eight former Bell city officials accused of bilking taxpayers out of about $5.5 million through hefty salaries, benefits and illicit loans of public money. Rizzo, the alleged ringleader, is charged with more than 50 counts of fraud, including 44 counts of misappropriation of public funds, six counts of falsification of records by an official custodian, three counts of conflict of interest and one count of public officer crime.
Charged along with Rizzo, 56, are former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, 52; former Mayor Oscar Hernandez, 63; former city council members Teresa Jacobo, 52, George Mirabal, 60, Luis Artiga, 49, George Cole, 60, and Victor Bello, 51.
The “Bell Eight”, who were arrested Sept. 21 in connection with charges of misappropriation of public funds, are also named in a civil suit alleging fraud, civil conspiracy and waste of public funds in an effort to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in unwarranted salaries.
A judge recently issued a tentative ruling saying he is inclined to dismiss the civil suit against them.
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