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Bell's Rizzo ordered to stand trial for conflict of interest, one charge dismissed

March 16, 2011|By Corina Knoll | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly becoming financially involved in a horse-racing business with a contractor who did millions of dollars of business for the city.

A second count alleging Rizzo misappropriated public funds through his relationship with Dennis Tarango was dismissed.

Tarango served as the city's planning director and also did engineering work for the city. He and Rizzo were partners in Golden Aggie Ranch Inc., which has since gone out of business.

Judge Henry J. Hall suggested the Los Angeles County district attorney's office consider filing perjury charges against Rizzo for allegedly failing to declare his horse-racing partnership on a state-required disclosure form.

Hall said prosecutors also could file charges alleging Rizzo violated the state's Fair Political Practices act.

Wednesday's hearing concluded a weeks-long process that resulted in eight current and former city officials being ordered to stand trial for misappropriating millions from the city with oversized-salary deals and loans.

The salary scandal in Bell has left the city on the edge of insolvency and facing deep budget cuts.

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