Former Bell City Manager Rizzo to stand trial for conflict of interest

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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 Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo will stand trial for a conflict of interest charge.

At the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles, Judge Henry Hall said the case wasn’t legally difficult. He said there was no question that there was conflict of interest in regard to Robert Rizzo’s horse-racing venture with the former planning director for Bell.

Outside court, the lead prosecutor in this phase of the preliminary hearing said he was satisfied with the judge’s ruling, though he was surprised the judge dismissed the second count of misappropriation of public funds. Judge Hall threw out the charge because he said Rizzo did not intend for the city of Bell to lose money.

Rizzo’s defense attorney said the judge’s dismissal of that second charge was unexpected. He said he looked forward to arguing Rizzo's case in the upcoming criminal trial but predicts the prosecution could bring new charges. Prosecutors said in open court that there’s presently an ongoing grand jury investigation.

Rizzo’s defense team said it may decide to move the venue for the trial outside Los Angeles to get the most fair jury.

Rizzo will be arraigned at the end of the month. He already faces more than 50 public corruption counts.

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