• True: Bell City Manager Wants Money Back


    LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Bell’s former city manager wants a judge to order
    the city to reimburse him for money spent on attorneys to defend him from civil
    and criminal charges that he conspired to defraud the municipality out of
    millions of dollars, newly filed court papers show.
    Robert Rizzo is presently defending three actions on his own consisting
    of two civil cases and a felony complaint filed by the District Attorney’s
    Office. He wants a declaration from a judge that the city should indemnify him
    for the money he has spent to hire legal counsel.
    Rizzo filed a cross-complaint against the city last Oct. 15. On Tuesday,
    he filed more than 400 pages of papers in support of his request for
    indemnification through a motion for summary judgment. His lawyer, James W.
    Spertus, said it is the first such motion in the case.
    “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 for 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 any
    type of claim,’ according to Rizzo’s new court filing.
    Rizzo is 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 eight were arrested Sept. 21 in connection with charges of
    misappropriation of public funds.
    The eight also are 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, although a judge recently issued
    a tentative ruling saying he is inclined to dismiss the case brought by the
    state Attorney General’s Office.

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