The man who became the face of a government corruption case that outraged a community southeast of downtown Los Angeles and led to several city officials' resignations pleaded guilty Monday to federal tax evasion charges.
Timeline: Bell Corruption Scandal
Robert Rizzo, 60, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and filing a false federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. The former Bell city manager faces a maximum of eight years in federal prison, plus restitution, fines and penalties.
The pleas came during a 30-minute hear in U.S. District Court. Sentencing is scheduled for March 10, two days before Rizzo is set to be sentenced in state court, where he previously pleaded no contest to 69 counts of corruption in a scheme in which he and top Bell city officials were paid exorbitant salaries and benefits.
Rizzo was taking in more than $1 million a as Bell's city manager, according to investigators. He had no comment as he left the courts building.
Rizzo created a corporation to fraudulently claim losses exceeding $300,000 on his income-tax return, according to federal prosecutors. The IRS suffered losses of more than $300,000 for the years 2006-10, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The corporation's tax returns falsely claimed that the expenses were related to the rental property, according to court papers.
After Rizzo pleaded no contest to the state charges, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said she would allow him to serve his sentence concurrently with the time he serves on the federal tax charges. He faces between 10 and 12 years in the state case.
Angela Spaccia, Bell's former assistant city administrator and Rizzo's second-in-command, was convicted in state court of 11 felonies for conspiring to misappropriate public funds and looting the working-class city's coffers through exorbitant salaries and personal loans of taxpayer money. She faces nearly 17 years in prison, with sentencing tentatively set for Jan. 22.