More charges for Bell city manager?

March 16, 2011 at 2:13 AM

LOS ANGELES, March 16 (UPI) -- A prosecutor presented evidence Tuesday that the former city manager of Bell, Calif., had a corrupt business relationship with Bell's former planning director.

Robert Rizzo already faces more than 50 criminal counts involving his alleged management of a scheme to pay himself and other Bell officials high salaries. A judge could rule Wednesday on additional charges of conflict of interest and misappropriation of funds, KPCC-FM, Pasadena, Calif., reported.

Dennis Tarango, the former planning director, was the principal witness. He said he and Rizzo became partners in the Golden Aggie Ranch after Rizzo suggested investing in racehorses as a way to cut his tax liability.

Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman produced documents that showed Tarango's engineering firm received millions of dollars from the city, some of it paid out after he and Rizzo formed Golden Aggie, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The investigation began last year after the Times discovered Bell officials were being paid salaries out of proportion to the city's size. Rizzo, for example, had an annual salary double the U.S. president's.

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