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Bell's Robert Rizzo leaves jail on $2M bail

October 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Facing more than 50 criminal charges, former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo was released from jail Thursday morning. Rizzo was cleared to leave just before midnight after a judge allowed him to post $2 million bail.Rizzo was bailed out by his mother-in-law. The collateral for the $2 million bail came from some homes that she owned. His mother-in-law posted the $160,000 bond premium from her own money.

Rizzo posted the bail and walked out of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility into a swarm of media. But the 56-year-old accused of cheating taxpayers out of millions of dollars is by no means a free man.

"He may have been released from the Twin Towers on bail, but he certainly is not a free man because he does not even have the freedom to even come to his home," said Julie Hernandez-Hermes, a former Bell resident.

Rizzo's Huntington Beach home was empty and there was no sign of him, which was not unusual for Rizzo, because neighbors said he kept to himself.

"I never saw him, never met him, never got a wave from him in the alley," said neighbor Cheryl Lamont.

The only contact Lamont did have with Rizzo was when he crashed into her mailbox, and was arrested for driving drunk in March.

For his latest arrest, Rizzo was not allowed to post bail until he could prove the money was not tied to the illegal activity he is accused of.

According to Rizzo's attorney, five properties, some owned by his mother-in-law, were used as collateral to secure the bail, but many bell residents are still skeptical.

"It may not have been tied to it, but the residents of Bell are certainly not happy with that. We all believe he belongs in jail," said Hernandez-Hermes.


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