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From left Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 22, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
The preliminary hearing for former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo - who faces dozens of corruption charges - was cut short Wednesday. Rizzo was taken to the hospital - and some spectators were less than sympathetic.
Some people inside the courtroom said Rizzo complained of chest pains during a lunchtime recess. After longtime Bell resident Donna Gannon watched paramedics drive him away in an ambulance, she shrugged her shoulders.
"This guy is a crook. He took our money," Gannon said. "We probably won't get half of it back and he gives loans out as if he was 'Bank of Rizzo.'"
Early in the day, Rizzo scribbled notes as Administrative Services Director Lourdes Garcia testified to a laundry list of loans Bell city employees received, using city money. She said Rizzo authorized them all – including two
$80,000 loans he took out for himself.
Rizzo's attorney James Spertus said Rizzo did nothing wrong. "Today, for the first time on the stand, the witness has testified that each loan was repaid with interest – the same rate of interest that the city would've had if the funds were deposited with the state treasurer. This is all very critical information."
Rizzo faces dozens of corruption charges – including misappropriation of funds. The judge adjourned the hearing until Monday.