Bell City Managers Stole From Affordable-Housing Funds

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Bell California City Managers

The bad news seems to never stop in Bell, California where the city council turned over the purse strings to former City Administrator Robert Rizzo, with little or no supervision. Without checks and balances, Rizzo proceeded divert millions in the form of lavish salaries and benefits to himself and other top officials, including the chief of police and city council members.

According to the most recent account in the Los Angeles Times, California State Controller John Chiang said that a recent audit by his office has found that city administrators consistently misused affordable housing funds for unrelated items such as cell phone and automobile costs. At least $1.2 million in funds from its redevelopment agency and gas tax funds were misappropriated.

The entire Redevelopment Agency was comprised of city council members, and the majority of meetings were conducted in less than three minutes, according to records examined by the Times. The audit found that $242,268 from one redevelopment fund was used towards Rizzo’s salary as well as Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and Director of Administrative Services Lourdes Garcia, even though there was no evidence they did any work for the Redevelopment Agency.

Even though Bell is one of the poorest communities in Los Angeles County, the audit revealed that the city administrators overbilled small business about $2.9 million between July 2007 and June 2010, apparently to pay excessive salaries, perks and other unlawful expenses. Over the last twelve months, reports indicate that Rizzo paid himself a salary and benefits exceeding $1.5 million, easily the highest in the country.

Los Angeles Times

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