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Audit Says Public Funds Paid Off Ex-Bell City Manager's Loans

Publication Date: 
September 21, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb

Professor Robert Weisberg is quoted in the LA Times on allegations against ex-Bell city manager, Robert Rizzo, that could amount to federal wire fraud. Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb filed this story:

Apparently acting without City Council approval, Bell spent nearly $95,000 to repay loans that then-City Manager Robert Rizzo made to himself from his retirement accounts, a draft state audit reviewed by The Times shows.

The auditors found no evidence that council members even knew about the repayments, which occurred in 2008 and 2009.

"We found the city's system of internal control to be nonexistent, as all financial activities and transactions revolved around one individual, the former chief administrative officer, who had complete control and discretion over how city funds were used," the auditors wrote.

State law prohibits a city from giving public funds to a person solely for private benefit.

Robert Weisberg, codirector of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, said that if city funds were used to repay loans without legal basis — as the draft audit alleges — "it would be a pretty classic case of federal wire fraud."