Ex-Bell city manager pleads guilty in tax case

Jan 13, 2014, 8:34 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Disgraced former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he filed a false federal income tax return to reduce his tax liability.

Rizzo entered the plea in federal court to one count each of conspiracy and filing a false federal income tax return, according to the U.S attorney’s office.

Rizzo became the face of a municipal scandal after it was revealed in 2010 that he was getting an annual salary and benefits package of $1.5 million while running the modest Los Angeles suburb of Bell.

He pleaded no contest in October to 69 counts of fraud, misappropriation of public funds and other charges after county prosecutors accused him of orchestrating a brazen scheme that drove Bell to the brink of bankruptcy.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced in March in that case and could be sent to prison for 10 to 12 years but is expected to serve about half of that time.

In the tax case, Rizzo acknowledged creating a corporation more than a decade ago to fraudulently claim losses on his income tax return, which reduced his tax exposure while running Bell.

The losses to the Internal Revenue Service between 2006 and 2010 totaled more than $300,000, authorities said.

Rizzo could face up to eight years in prison, according to a plea agreement filed last month that also calls for him to pay additional taxes and penalties.

Bell’s ex-assistant city manager Angela Spaccia was recently convicted of 11 counts, including conspiracy and misappropriating public funds. She could face up to 17 years in prison, but prosecutors said she’s likely to receive a much lighter sentence.

Five ex-Bell City Council members were found guilty last March for also misappropriating public funds in connection with the corruption probe.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Ex-Bell city manager pleads guilty in tax case