Judge Won't Order Bell to Pay Rizzo's Bills

The judge says that issue should be left up to a jury

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    From left Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 22, 2011 in Los Angeles, California The hearing was to determine if Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo will have to stand trial on charges that they misappropriated public funds. (Photo by Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images)

    A judge Tuesday refused to order the city of Bell to reimburse its former city manager for legal costs.

    Robert Rizzo is defending himself in a civil case brought by the city and a felony complaint filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. Rizzo had asked Judge Ralph Dau to order the city to reimburse him for money he spent to hire legal counsel.

    The judge said that's up to a jury.

    Rizzo's lawyer said it's "tragic" the case will now have to go to trial.

    After the hearing, attorney James Spertus said that it was clear the civil and criminal actions against Rizzo stem from alleged misconduct  that occurred during the course of his employment. He said the city is bound by a 1996 agreement to reimburse Rizzo for his legal expenses.

    An attorney for the city argued Rizzo's actions were for his own personal gain and not in conjunction with city business.

    The former city manager is among eight Bell city officials accused of bilking  taxpayers out of about $5.5 million through large salaries, benefits and illicit loans of public money.