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Rizzo in court in tax-evasion plea agreement

Former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo appeared in court Monday as part of a tax-evasion plea agreement.
December 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo appeared in federal court in a tax-evasion case Monday. Rizzo has already pleaded no contest to nearly 70 state public corruption charges. He is doing everything he can, legally, to reduce the amount of time he'll have to spend behind bars.

Rizzo acknowledges he committed crimes of corruption against the people of Bell. Through his attorney, James Spertus, Rizzo admitted to federal charges of being a tax cheat.

"Our effort to resolve the case is in a way that accepts responsibility and communicates that Mr. Rizzo is doing what he can to make things right," said Spertus.

Before a magistrate, Rizzo was ordered to post a $25,000 bond. Out free now, Rizzo will return next month to formally plead guilty to two federal charges, on top of the 69 state charges to which he has already pleaded guilty.

Court documents spell out the overt act. Investigators say Rizzo conspired with an accountant and another unnamed person to commit conspiracy involving Rizzo's side business of raising thoroughbred horses.

"A horse ranch in Auburn, Washington, that he claimed was a rental property -- it wasn't a rental property. And he was using this corporation to make bogus tax deductions that saved him and his co-conspirators hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes," said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Over several years, Rizzo admits to over $600,000 in fraudulent deductions.

"Mr. Rizzo in fact has become a symbol, or as the IRS put it, a 'poster boy,' for municipal corruption in the United States," said Mrozek.

Monday's hearing comes just weeks after Rizzo's assistant city manager, Angela Spaccia, was convicted of 11 of 13 felony charges. Whatever her sentence is, Rizzo says his should be less because he confessed instead of taking his case to trial. He says that, in essence, actually saved taxpayers money in court costs.


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