A Superior Court Judge read out the final chapter of an ongoing story of corruption, arrogance, and greed when she sentenced a small town city official to spend the next twelve years in prison and to pay back $8.8 million that he stole from the city coffers.
According to the LA Times, Robert Rizzo, the Bell city administrator, sat motionless as he heard Judge Kathleen Kennedy tell him, “Mr. Rizzo, you did some very, very bad things for a very long time.” Rizzo had paid himself and other city officials exorbitant salaries, were granted sweetheart loan deals, and set up lavish pension plans.
The Times further reported that Rizzo had taken on a “godfather of sorts” persona and robbed from the treasury of one of California’s poorest cities. Rizzo and his cronies’ behavior prompted former L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steven Cooley to remark that the case was about “corruption on steroids.” Last week Rizzo’s assistant Angela Spaccia was sentenced to 11 years and 8 months for her participation in the scandal.
When Rizzo was finally forced out of office and arrested in 2010, his salary was close to $1.5 million a year, which made him one of the highest paid city administrators in California and possibly the entire country. Moreover, according to The Times, he would have been at the top of public pensioners in California when he retired.
Although the shamed city administrator showed remorse and told the courtroom that he was “very, very sorry,” City Councilwoman Violetta Alvarez said, “The damage has been done and the money is gone.” One resident of nearby Maywood said that is not about Rizzo anymore. “This is about the people getting justice.”