Robert Rizzo Faces Sentencing For Up To 8 Years In Prison - KMSP-TV

Robert Rizzo Faces Sentencing For Up To 8 Years In Prison

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Los Angeles, CA -

(FOX 11 / CNS) Robert Rizzo faces up to eight years in federal prison when he is sentenced today for a tax evasion scheme designed to offset the $1.1 million he was illegally paying himself as Bell's city administrator.

Rizzo pleaded guilty in January to federal counts of conspiracy and filing a false federal income tax return. U.S. District Judge George H. King can sentence Rizzo to anything from probation to eight years behind bars, although prosecutors have asked for a prison term of two years and nine months.

Rizzo is also facing 10 to 12 years in state prison, plus restitution, for his role in the Bell corruption scandal, in which he and other city officials raided the small city's coffers through inflated salaries.

In the tax case, Rizzo's conduct "can only be described as corrupt,'' according to the government's papers.

"Defendant abused his position to fleece the city of Bell of hundreds of thousands of dollars that he paid to himself in excessive salary -- monies that could have been spent for the benefit of the people he served,'' prosecutors wrote. "But not satisfied with betraying the trust placed in him by the city and its residents, in an extraordinary display of greed, defendant also found it necessary to cheat the IRS.''

Today's hearing in downtown Los Angeles takes place two days before Rizzo is scheduled to be sentenced in state court, where he pleaded no contest to 69 corruption counts.

Rizzo, 60, is expected to be allowed to serve both sentences concurrently in the federal system, where white-collar crime offenders are usually housed in minimum-security prison camps.

Federal prosecutors said that from 2005 through 2010, the year he was fired from his job as Bell's city manager, Rizzo claimed more than $770,000 in phantom losses on his tax returns, further inflating take-home pay that had reached $1.18 million a year.

The phony losses "operated to substantially offset the increasing wages defendant received from his employment with the city of Bell,'' according to Rizzo's plea agreement.

Angela Spaccia, Rizzo's second-in-command in Bell, was convicted of 11 counts of corruption in Superior Court and sentenced to almost 12 years in state prison last week. She has not been charged federally. However, she is referred to in Rizzo's federal court documents as "A.S.,' along with her company, Sheffield Management Corp.

Rizzo's plea agreement says the two of them cost the IRS more than $300,000.

The accountant in the scheme, Robert J. Melcher of Calabasas, pleaded guilty last year to aiding and abetting the filing of a false tax return. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court later this year.

Five ex-Bell City Council members were found guilty last year in Superior Court on felony counts of misappropriating public funds. They accepted plea deals last week in which they pleaded no contest to two felony counts of misappropriation of public funds. They are facing sentences that could range from probation to four years in state prison.

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