Ex-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo Sentenced in Tax Evasion Case

Rizzo will serve 33 months in federal prison and is ordered to pay nearly $256,000 in restitution for "conduct that can only be described as corrupt"

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    Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, pictured here during his preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 23, 2011, is expected to be sentenced on federal tax evasion charges Monday, April 14, 2014. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 33 months in prison.

    Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo will serve 33 months in federal prison for tax evasion after being sentenced Monday. Rizzo is also ordered to pay nearly $256,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

    In January, Rizzo pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and filing a false federal income tax return. From 2005 to 2010, prosecutors said Rizzo claimed more than $770,000 in non-existent losses.

    As Bell city manager, he gave himself an annual salary and benefits package worth $1.5 million. The claimed losses were used to offset the inflated wages, authorities said.

    The U.S. Probation Office recommended that Rizzo receive a sentence between 27 and 33 months, but prosecutors sought a sentence at the higher end of the guidelines.

    “The government recognizes the factors in mitigation cited by the Probation Office, but nevertheless believes a sentence at the high-end of the advisory guidelines sentencing range is appropriate,” prosecutors said in court documents. “Defendant’s crimes in this case are an extension (or a continuation) of the crimes for which he has been found guilty in state court, and overall, defendant’s conduct can only be described as corrupt."

    The prosecution added that Rizzo “abused his position to fleece the City of Bell of hundreds of thousands of dollars that he paid to himself in excessive salary – monies that could have been spent for the benefit of the people of the city he served.”

    Prosecutors also remarked that Rizzo showed an extraordinary amount of greed by finding it necessary to defraud the City of Bell and the IRS at the same time.

    On Wednesday Rizzo is scheduled to be sentenced on 69 counts of fraud, misappropriation of public funds and other charges linked to Bell’s corruption scandal. He pleaded not guilty to these charges.

    Rizzo is expected to serve both sentences concurrently, if convicted on more than just the tax charges against him.