Lawyer says high-paid Calif. official broke no law

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Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo during his preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 23, 2011.

A lawyer for a former city manager accused of masterminding a scheme to loot millions from the blue-collar California city of Bell says his client never broke the law when he accepted an annual compensation package of $1.5 million and loaned nearly $2 million more to other employees.

Attorney James Spertus said Wednesday that defendant Robert Rizzo's salary and compensation was approved by the City Council.

He also says loans Rizzo made to dozens of others weren't really loans but were payments they received when they cashed out unused vacation and sick pay.

Spertus is the first lawyer to speak during closing arguments at a preliminary hearing to determine if Rizzo and three other former Bell officials should stand trial on fraud and other charges.

© 2011 The Associated Press.

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