An audit of the city of Bell by California’s state controller’s office was released yesterday, and found that former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo steered more than $700,000 in state and federal funds “to companies and at least one City Hall insider without valid contracts, competitive bids or even getting City Council approval,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Eight Bell officials pleaded not guilty in October to using public funds to inflate their salaries for part-time elected positions. Rizzo, who was charged with 53 different counts, made nearly $800,000 a year. Others made up to $96,000 a year for their part-time jobs — 20 times the national average for a city Bell’s size.
The Times reports:
Among the companies that received state and federal tax dollars was an engineering firmed owned by the city’s former planning director, Dennis Tarango. D&J Engineering was paid nearly $100,000 from an oil-recycling grant even though the planning director’s company did not have a contract for the work.
The audit said the payment may be illegal and, because of Tarango’s job with the city, raises questions about a conflict of interest.
On March 8, the city will vote on whether to recall Mayor Oscar Hernandez and council members Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal.
Full coverage of Bell here.