A judge in California has dismissed several of the charges against two former Bell City Council officials, but refused to throw out any charges against Robert Rizzo, the alleged mastermind behind a scam to inflate the salaries of public officials with public funds.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy dismissed three felony charges against former Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former Councilman Luis Artiga, ruling that they didn’t know they were breaking the law when they took cash loans from Rizzo, the former city administrator.
Each still faces additional felony charges, along with four other former city officials, for allegedly misappropriating public funds to inflate their salaries as high as $100,000 for part-time positions.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kennedy also refused to dismiss several charges against Rizzo and his assistant Angela Spaccia, who have been accused of masterminding the scheme. Rizzo was banking almost $800,000 a year by the time he was arrested.
From the Times:
Former City Councilman Luis Artiga used one of two $20,000 loans he received to adopt a 2-year-old girl from Tijuana, and former former Mayor Oscar Hernandez received $20,000 to buy new equipment for the small grocery store he operated in town.
Spaccia also received loans from the city, collecting more than $300,000, part of which she reportedly used to buy a house. Rizzo lent himself money as well, according to the charges, and replenished his own $80,000 loan several times.
Rizzo faces 42 felony counts for lending out around $1.9 million in city funds, loans that had not been approved by the City Council.