- - Thursday, March 10, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Trials ordered for ex-city officials

LOS ANGELES | A former city manager accused of masterminding a scam to bilk the blue-collar Los Angeles suburb of Bell of more than $5.5 million was ordered Thursday to stand trial on more than 50 counts of fraud.

Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall said the evidence presented during a three-week preliminary hearing showed Robert Rizzo paid himself an unauthorized and exorbitant annual salary and compensation package of nearly $1.5 million a year, and falsified city payroll records to hide his pay and benefits from a suspicious public.


Mr. Rizzo’s base salary alone was so high, Judge Hall said, that he made more money in a week than the average Bell resident does in a year.

Mr. Rizzo’s former assistant, Angela Spaccia, now-recalled Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former City Council member Luis Artiga also were ordered to trial on fraud counts. The four, all free on bail, were told to return to court March 24 for an arraignment.

The ruling was handed down two days after angry Bell residents went to the polls and voted in an entirely new City Council.

FLORIDA

Disney World halts Grad Nite tradition

ORLANDO | Walt Disney World is ending its annual Grad Nite festivities for high school seniors from across the country after this year because of concerns about scheduling and handling extra spring attendance at the Florida theme park.

Officials at the park announced the news on the Disney Parks Blog on Wednesday, saying the increased spring attendance has made it difficult to schedule the separate-ticket, after-hours events. The four Grad Nite dates in April and May will take place as scheduled.

Grad Nite is in its 40th year at the Florida park and in its 50th year at Disneyland in California. Disneyland will continue to hold Grad Nite.

MICHIGAN

VW minivans recalled for stalling

DETROIT | Volkswagen is recalling 12,600 minivans because the ignition key could move while the vehicle is in motion and cause the engine to shut off.

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