Judge orders former Bell city manager Rizzo to stand trial

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Irfan Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo listens to proceedings during his preliminary hearing on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

A judge has ordered former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo and his assistant to stand trial on charges they looted millions of dollars from taxpayers.

For about an hour Judge Henry Hall issued his ruling as Robert Rizzo, his assistant Angela Spaccia and others listened. Hall ordered Rizzo to stand trial on more than 50 counts of misappropriation of public funds, falsification of public records and conflict of interest.

Hall said there’s enough evidence to support that Rizzo and his assistant drafted lucrative employee contracts without City Council approval – including contracts for themselves that paid them astronomical amounts of money.

Judge Hall ruled two other defendants in this phase of the hearing – outgoing Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former city councilman Luis Artiga – will also stand trial.

After the ruling, defendants seemed not to react.

Outside the courtroom, prosecutors said they’re pleased with the judge’s ruling. Defense attorneys said they looked forward to arguing their case during trial.

The defendants are scheduled for arraignment March 24.

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