By Michael Martinez
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The former city manager of Bell, California, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in state prison in a public corruption case in which he and several other former city council members were accused of turning taxpayer money into a personal "piggy bank."
Robert Rizzo earlier pleaded no contest to 69 felony counts of public corruption, prosecutors said.
In all, Rizzo, another former city official and five former council members -- all of them now convicted -- stole nearly $11 million from the Los Angeles-area city of about 35,000 people, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.
The corruption case drew national attention for its large-scale theft by so many elected and appointed officials in such a small city.
Former District Attorney Steve Cooley, who initially handled the charges, had called the case a "feeding frenzy of corruption by Bell officials." Prosecutors accused the former city officials of turning the city treasury into "their own piggy bank, which they looted at will."
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy imposed Wednesday's sentence.
Last year, former Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo and former Council members George Mirabal, Victor Bello and George Cole were convicted by a jury on several counts of misappropriation of public funds, prosecutors said. The jury, however, acquitted them or were deadlocked on several other similar counts, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors sought a retrial on those deadlocked charges, but that effort ended this month when the five former council members pleaded no contest to two counts of misappropriation of public funds. Under the plea deal, the five former officials avoided a retrial, but they now could face up to four years in state prison, prosecutors said.
The five former elected officials admitted to earning up to $100,000 annually for serving on boards or commissions that never met or convened for only minutes a year, prosecutors said. They also agreed to pay restitution, the amount of which has yet to be determined.
Rizzo's former chief administrative officer, Angela Spaccia, was convicted by a jury in December of 11 felony counts for writing her own employment contracts, taking loans without council approval, and creating her own retirement plan, prosecutors said.
CNN's Amanda Watts contributed to this report.
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