LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo was sentenced Wednesday morning to 12 years in state prison for his role in the Bell corruption scandal.
Rizzo, who was also ordered to pay $8.8 million in restitution, pleaded no contest in October to 69 counts, including misappropriation of public funds and perjury.
KCAL 9’s Dave Lopez reports for the first time since the scandal erupted four years ago, Rizzo made a public apology.
“I breached the public’s confidence by starting to look at the position more towards myself than the community. I am very, very sorry for that,” he said.
The 60-year-old is the accused ring leader of the Bell scandal, which inflated salaries of city administrators, ultimately costing taxpayers $15 million.
KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports city manager Doug Willmore says the trial may be over, but the damage done by Rizzo to the city’s financial infrastructure will take a long time to repair.
“He really let this economy, this commercial tax base, crumble over his 20 years in office and businesses moved out,” said Willmore, who added it could take five to eight years to recover.
Rizzo remains free on a $2.2 million bond and was ordered to surrender on May 30 to begin serving a 33-month federal prison term for tax evasion. He must also pay nearly $256,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in that case.
Rizzo was ordered by a judge Monday to serve his sentence for tax evasion separately from his time in the corruption case.
Six other Bell city leaders, including Rizzo’s assistant, Angela Spaccia, have also been convicted in the scandal.
Rizzo Sentenced To 33 Months In Federal Tax Case