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Ex-Bell city manager to keep retirement funds

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POSTED November 3, 2013 5:40 p.m.

BELL, Calif. (AP) — Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo will be able to keep his retirement account and pension despite pleading no contest to corruption charges associated with granting himself a huge salary and generous benefits.

City officials say they are legally prevented from going after Rizzo’s 401(k)-style retirement account or his annual $116,629 pension, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Five former Bell City Council members were convicted last March of fraud charges after being accused of enriching themselves with public funds.

Rizzo recently pleaded no contest to 69 counts and will likely be sentenced to no more than 10 to 12 years in prison. As part of the agreement, he will likely be ordered to pay up to $3.2 million back to the city.

“It’s mind-boggling that after so much he did that he’s still able to receive money from the city because of the pension,” Bell Councilman Ali Saleh told the newspaper.

Because Rizzo was an appointed city officials, not elected, state law says he can keep his pension. If he were elected, then he would lose it.

Rizzo’s attorney James Spertus told the paper his client has earned the retirement funds.

“He spent 30 years in public service and everyone is focusing on the last two or three,” Spertus said.

Since his downfall, Rizzo has sold his home near the sea in Huntington Beach, a horse ranch in Washington and a stable of racehorses.

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