Ex-Bell city attorney says he didn’t sign off on Rizzo’s big raises

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo during his preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 23, 2011.
Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo during his preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 23, 2011. Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images

Bell’s former city attorney Edward Lee testified Friday that he’s unaware how his signature got onto several contracts that increased the salary for former city manager Robert Rizzo.

During a preliminary hearing for city officials charged with public corruption, Lee said the last contract he signed was one the City Council approved in October 2002. He said he never saw agreements after that, even though the documents had his signature on them.

Prosecutors accuse Rizzo of doctoring contracts that boosted his annual pay to more than $1 million.

Outside the courtroom, Rizzo’s attorney James Spertus promised to get to the truth when he cross-examines the witness.

“He obviously doesn’t want to be blamed for signing these contracts," said Spertus. "But I think it’s irrefutable that he did in fact sign them. And what I predict he’ll say after examining his contracts — ‘cause I’ll ask him to hold them up to the light ... they don’t match, they’re not Xeroxes — he’ll say ‘perhaps I signed them but didn’t read them.'”

Bell City Councilman George Mirabal sat in the back of the courtroom at Friday’s hearing. Mirabal said he was curious to hear what the former city attorney would say on the witness stand.

A judge has ruled that Mirabal will stand trial on public corruption charges — along with five other officials who served on the council.

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