Rizzo Removed on Gurney From Courthouse

The former Bell city manager was in court for a preliminary hearing when paramedics responded

By Jonathan Lloyd and Patrick Healy
|  Thursday, Feb 24, 2011  |  Updated 10:53 AM PDT
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Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo is removed on a gurney during his preliminary hearing.

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo is removed on a gurney during his preliminary hearing.

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Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo was removed on a gurney Wednesday during his preliminary hearing.

Rizzo was seated on a bench outside the courtroom at the downtown LA Criminal Courts Building when paramedics arrived at 12:30 p.m. He was talking to attorneys during a break. Rizzo complained of chest pains and light-headedness.

Rizzo, who was responsive, had a towel over his face as paramedics removed him from the building. He was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital near downtown Los Angeles.

Hospital officials would not give an update on Rizzo's condition. He remained hospitalized early Thursday.

Rizzo, who earned a $787,637 salary plus a lucrative benefits package as Bell's chief administrative officer, is accused of misappropriating public funds.

His attorney, James Spertus, would not go into detail about his client's health, but he did say that being a defendant is always stressful.

"And then to take a case and magnify it through the press and have it nationally reported while under orders from your attorney not to say anything in defense of yourself is a very stressful thing," Spertus said.

The hearing, now in its third day, was adjourned for the remainder of the day.

Spertus said Rizzo emphatically did not want to go to the hospital.

"To the extent that anybody thinks that he's somehow trying to avoid his day in court, it's quite the contrary," said Spertus. "They had to drag him from this court."

The hearing is to determine whether Rizzo and his second-in-command should stand trial on charges that they misappropriated public funds.

Rizzo the alleged ringleader, is charged with 44 counts of misappropriation of public funds, six counts of falsification of records by an official custodian, three counts of conflict of interest and one count of public officer crime. He also is charged in a separate case with two counts of misappropriation of public funds.

Former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia is charged with four counts of misappropriation of public funds.

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