More shenanigans from the Bell salary scandal emerged late Monday as the Los Angeles Times reported that former city manager Robert Rizzo lent himself $95,000 against his retirement account and then authorized repayment by the city.
We're not sure what's more ballsy, the fact that this guy, according to the Times, appeared to have control of some city purse strings without any apparent City Council approval, or his need for city loans when he was pulling down as much as $1.5 million in annual take-home and other benefits. Not enough? Really? Rizzo's attorney, James Spertus, says the loan was on the up-and-up:
“Mr. Rizzo was paying off his own loans with his own money, he was not using public funds. I do know, and I confirmed with Mr. Rizzo, the loans were paid with salary and declared as income on his taxes, and it was done with city approval.”
The Times doesn't seem so sure, and it quotes Robert Weisberg, a director at the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, as saying that if city funds indeed paid for Rizzo's loan, it could constitute wire fraud.
The paper based its information on a forthcoming audit from state controller John Chiang's office. The revelation isn't surprising. But even as the Times seems to let the Bell City Council off the hook for this one, we wonder what these politicians were doing as Rizzo was allegedly manipulating the working-class city's purse strings.
More and more, Rizzo is looking like some kind of puppet master.