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Former city manager in California pay scandal released on bail

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Ex-California city official out on bail
  • Robert Rizzo was arrested last month in a case a district attorney calls "corruption on steroids"
  • Rizzo's last annual salary was more than $787,000, California's attorney general says
  • Other Bell officials face corruption-related charges

(CNN) -- A former California city manager who was arrested in September in a pay scandal has paid his bail and left jail, officials said

The bail for Robert Rizzo, the former city manager of Bell, California, was set at $2 million. The case against Rizzo and other city officials was called "corruption on steroids" by the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

Rizzo left jail on Wednesday night.

Rizzo, along with four Bell City Council members, two former council members and a former assistant city manager, were arrested in September and face charges that include misappropriation of funds, conflict of interest and making or receiving illegal loans.

Prosecutors allege the officials misappropriated more than $5.5 million, were paid for phantom council meetings and deliberately misled citizens about how much they were paid.

Video: Probe leads to city officials' arrest

"They used the tax dollars collected from the hard-working citizens of Bell as their own piggy bank, which they looted at will," Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said at the time of the arrests.

Among the council members facing charges is Mayor Oscar Hernandez.

After one of the accused resigned his council post on Monday, a scheduled council meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum after only one member -- Lorenzo Velez, who is not facing charges -- showed up, CNN affiliate KTLA reported.

High salaries paid to officials of Bell sparked local outrage and national attention when they came to light in July.

Rizzo, former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams resigned after media reports that they were making several hundred thousand dollars a year each. Adams has not been charged.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running for governor in the state, has sued several of the former officials to recover the "excess salaries."

Rizzo's last annual salary was more than $787,000, according to Brown's office. Adams earned $457,000 and Spaccia received $336,000.

Before recently cutting their pay, Bell City Council members received $96,000 yearly, compared with $4,800 yearly for council members in similarly-sized cities, Brown said.

Bell, a town of about 36,000 in southeastern Los Angeles County, has a median household income of less than $35,000, according to census figures.

CNN's Samuel Gardner contributed to this report.