Ex-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo to Plead Guilty in Tax Case

In October, Rizzo pleaded no contest to 69 counts of fraud, misappropriation of public funds and other charges linked to a brazen corruption scandal that drove his city to the brink of bankruptcy.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jan. 10, 2012: Robert Rizzo appears in court.

    Disgraced former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo has agreed to plead guilty to charges that he filed a false federal income tax return to reduce his tax liability, documents filed Thursday show.

    The plea agreement indicates that Rizzo, 59, agreed to plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy and filing a false federal income tax return. He could face up to eight years in prison.

    Photos: Outrage in City of Bell

    Rizzo acknowledged creating a corporation more than a decade ago to fraudulently claim losses on his income tax return, which reduced his tax exposure on the significant income he received while running the modest Los Angeles suburb of Bell, according to the Department of Justice.

    The losses to the Internal Revenue Service between 2006 and 2010 totaled more than $300,000, authorities said.

    Timeline: Bell Corruption Scandal | "Ridiculous Sums of Money" at Heart of Bell Scandal

    Federal prosecutors said Rizzo was assisted in the scheme by his accountant, Robert Melcher, who has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the filing of a false tax return. Melcher could face up to three years in prison.

    As part of the plea deal, Rizzo agreed to file amended tax returns that will correct all income and expenses. He also agreed to pay additional taxes and penalties.

    Rizzo pleaded no contest in October to 69 counts of fraud, misappropriation of public funds and other charges linked to a brazen corruption scandal that drove Bell to the brink of bankruptcy. He's scheduled to be sentenced on March 12 and could be sent to prison for 10 to 12 years but is expected to serve about half of that time.

    Watch: Ex-Bell Official Spaccia Taken Into Custody After Conviction

    He became the face of a municipal scandal after it was revealed in 2010 that he was giving himself an annual salary and benefits package of $1.5 million. His $800,000 in wages alone was double that of the president of the United States.

    Earlier this week, former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia was found guilty of 11 charges, including misappropriating public funds and conspiracy. She could face up to 17 years in prison but is likely to receive a much lighter sentence, prosecutors said.

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