Ousted Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo has been released from jail after a judge cleared him to post $2 million bail.
According to inmate information on the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's website, Rizzo was released from Twin Towers
Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles at 11:58 p.m. Wednesday.
Rizzo was cleared to be released earlier Wednesday after a judge determined that the properties being used as collateral to secure
his $2 million bail were not tied to Rizzo's alleged illegal activity.
Rizzo had been jailed since Sept. 21 when he and seven other current and former Bell officials were arrested for allegedly bilking taxpayers in the working-class suburb out of more than $5.5 million in salaries, loans and benefits.
Outside the courtroom, the former city manager's attorney said his client should have been out of jail much earlier.
"He is a piñata, a figurehead," James Spertus said. "I hope the mob mentality subsides.
Friends and family pledged five properties as collateral to obtain Rizzo's release. According to the LA Times:
The judge rejected an argument by prosecutors that a loan Rizzo's mother-in-law made to Bell's former assistant city administrator, Angela Spaccia, tainted all the relative's assets.
Rizzo's attorney said that five properties in Torrance and Los Angeles were more than sufficient collateral for bail and asked the former city administrator's mother-in-law, Su Lin Chen Chiang, to testify that she was putting up her home, another property she owned and had more than $1 million from the sale of another house.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman tried to block Rizzo's attempt to make bail by challenging the value of the homes, producing an earlier defense team analysis stating that the combined properties were worth less than $2 million.
Rizzo, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, council members Luis Artiga, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal, former councilmen Victor Bello and George Cole, and Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia were arrested. Bello and Mirabal remain jailed.