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Bell Corruption Scandal

The City of Bell corruption scandal involved allegations of misappropriation of public funds by officials over a period of several years.

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Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo has agreed to plead guilty to filing false tax returns in which he declared phantom losses of more than $600,000 over five years.

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Robert Rizzo showed at a court appearance.

He has also agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.

Angela Spaccia, Rizzo’s second in command in Bell who earlier this week was convicted of 11 counts of corruption, has not yet been charged.

However, she is clearly referred to in Rizzo’s charging document as “A.S.”, along with her company, Sheffield Management Corp.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

A jury on Monday found a former municipal administrator guilty of 11 counts of felony public corruption that took place in Bell, the Los Angeles County city that made headlines worldwide with the revelation of officials’ extraordinarily high salaries.

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Former Bell administrator Angela Spaccia is handcuffed after being found guilty on 11 of 13 public corruptions counts in a downtown L.A. courtroom Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. (Credit: pool)

Angela Spaccia, former assistant city manager in Bell, was charged in a corruption scheme that inflated her salary along with that of ex-City Manager Robert Rizzo and City Council members.

Bell, a city of about 35,000 largely low-income and Latino residents, was left nearly bankrupt by the plot, prosecutors said.

Four weeks of complicated testimony and argument concluded when the case was sent to the jury Nov. 22. Jurors had thousands of pages of documents that comprise a complex paper trail.

After the judge asked twice for the jurors to clarify their findings, the verdict was read Monday evening in a courtroom at the downtown Los Angeles Superior Court criminal justice building.

Spaccia had been charged with one count of conspiracy to misappropriate public funds, six counts of misappropriation of public funds, four counts of conflict of interest and two counts of secretion of official record.

The jury of eight women and four men found Spaccia guilty on 11 counts, but not guilty of one: secretion of official record. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on one count of misappropriation of public funds, and a mistrial was declared in that charge.

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Former Bell administrator Angela Spaccia showed little emotion after hearing the jury’s verdict. (Credit: pool)

The jury accepted prosecutors’ arguments that Spaccia had written her own employment contracts, taken loans without council approval, removed public documents and created her own retirement plan that would have cost Bell taxpayers $8 million, according to the DA’s office.

“I am pleased the jury viewed this extremely complex case for precisely what it was – greed,” District Attorney Lacey said in a written statement about Spaccia and Rizzo. “Their unbridled greed also forced Bell’s 35,000 hardworking residents to pay higher tax rates than residents of Beverly Hills.”

In October, just before the jury trial began, Rizzo pleaded no contest to all 69 counts he faced, leaving Spaccia to face the brunt of prosecutors’ arguments alone.

Rizzo was set to be sentenced in March. His attorney claimed Spaccia was the mastermind, while Spaccia’s attorney claimed Rizzo came up with the scheme.

Spaccia made $564,000 per year and Rizzo made $1.18 million, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first broke the Bell story in 2010.

Rizzo had been expected to testify against Spaccia, but he did not take the stand.

In her own defense, Spaccia told jurors said she never asked for the massive salary but was grateful for it. Sparring with the prosecutor, she said she was a victim of Rizzo.

A prosecutor called her a liar and a thief.

She was told to return to court for sentencing on Jan. 22.

In a separate trial that ended in March, five of six former Bell City Council members who were charged with various counts of misappropriation of public funds were found guilty. They were set to return to court Dec. 13 to face remaining felony counts.

Angela Spaccia’s defense in the Bell corruption trial is simple: She agrees she made too much money, but that’s not a crime.

Defense attorney Harland Braun, left, with Bell defendant Angela Spaccia, right

Defense attorney Harland Braun, left, said he thought his client, former Bell Assistant Chief Administrator Angela Spaccia, right, did “very well” on the witness stand in her corruption trial. This photo is from the courtroom proceedings on Oct. 23, 2013. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Spaccia’s trial on charges that she worked with her boss, Robert Rizzo, to engineer huge salaries for Bell’s leaders provided vivid evidence of graft in the small, working-class city. But it will be up to the jury to decide whether Spaccia was an active player in the effort to misappropriate public money or simply someone who benefited from it. The jury began deliberations Friday

For Spaccia to be found not guilty on the 13 counts of misappropriation of funds, conspiracy, conflict of interest and other charges, she and her attorney will have had to convince jurors that she had no idea the lawbreaking was taking place. Spaccia worked as Rizzo’s deputy for seven years and received a salary that topped out at $564,000 a year, unheard-of compensation for someone in her position.

She testified that none of the attorneys working for the city told her anything was wrong and that at times they even told her Rizzo had the authority to do things that were later deemed illegal.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

A Los Angeles jury is weighing the fate of a former ranking administrator in Bell who prosecutors claim was one of the architects of the widespread corruption that left the working-class town on the edge of bankruptcy.

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Angela Spaccia, the former second in command in Bell, appears in court Wednesday. (credit: LA Times)

Angela Spaccia was described by prosecutors as the spark plug for the high salaries and generous benefit packages that were awarded key officials in the Los Angeles County city, someone who worked tirelessly to “suck” money from the town.

But Spaccia, who took the stand in her own defense, said she was a victim of her controlling, manipulative boss Robert Rizzo, the city’s former chief executive. She claimed she never asked for the huge salaries she was paid, which grew to $564,000 by the time she was forced out, but was “grateful” for the large paycheck.

In a final push Friday to sway jurors, Deputy Dist. Atty Sean Hassett described Spaccia as a liar and a thief.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

Despite not working for about 18 months straight to take care of her ailing grandfather and son, Bell’s second-ranked administrator was never docked a single vacation or sick day and continued to draw her full salary and benefits.

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Former Bell Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia outside the courtroom. (Credit: LA Times)

At the same time while she was out, she continued to build up more vacation and sick leave, which was used to repay large loans she had taken from the city, Angela Spaccia testified Monday. In all, Spaccia received about $350,000 in city loans which prosecutors contend were illegal.

Spaccia, who was second-in-command in Bell when the city became engulfed in a salary scandal, is fighting 13 corruption-related charges and has been on the witness stand seven days.

Dep. Dist. Atty. Sean Hassett focused on the time Spaccia spent in Idaho to take care of her grandfather in 2005 and 2006.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

Angela Spaccia, Bell’s former assistant city administrator, is scheduled to be cross-examined Thursday in a Los Angeles courtroom in her trial on felony corruption charges.

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Angela Spaccia, the former second in command in Bell, appears in court Wednesday. (credit: LA Times)

Spaccia has been on the witness stand in her defense since last week.

On Wednesday, she testified that a chain of emails that has come to symbolize the greed of Bell’s top leaders was actually a joke.

The emails became infamous in the wake of the salary scandal in Bell that led to the arrests of eight city leaders, including Spaccia.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

Angela Spaccia, the former second-in-command in the city of Bell, told a jury Thursday that her goal working in the city of Bell was to retire at age 50, earning enough to receive a $100,000 annual pension.

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Former Bell Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia spoke to reporters outside court on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

Spaccia, one of eight former Bell officials accused of looting the city’s treasury to pay themselves out-sized salaries, took the witness stand in her own defense, at times tearfully recounting her years working in the city.

In 2010, Spaccia earned more than $500,000, while Rizzo received more than $1 million.

Spaccia painted a picture of a city where Rizzo called the shots and was firmly in control. The generous salaries for city employees, she said, were his idea.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

When the city of Bell approached Randy Adams to be its police chief, he doubted the small, working-class town could afford him.

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Former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams attends the Maywood Police Department’s last inspection before the department disbanded in 2010. (Credit: LA Times)

Adams, who had recently retired as Glendale’s police chief, wanted a salary in excess of $400,000. He was stunned when Bell officials said they would meet his demand.

“I was surprised that a little city like this could afford to hire me,” Adams testified Wednesday in the corruption trial of Angela Spaccia, the former city official who hired him in 2009.

In taking the stand, Adams spoke publicly for the first time about the Bell scandal, providing fresh details about the inner workings of City Hall.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

Former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams took the stand Wednesday in the corruption trial of former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia.

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Former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams attends the Maywood Police Department’s last inspection before the department disbanded in 2010. (Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Adams’ decision to testify came as a surprise after his previous long-standing refusal to testify in the matter, which led to charges against Spaccia, onetime City Administrator Robert Rizzo and six former City Council members.

During his stint as Bell’s top law-enforcement officer, he was paid a $457,000 annual salary – an amount that many considered exorbitant, given Bell’s relatively small size and population.

Adams has not been charged with a crime.

“I don’t know why he is not a defendant in this case,”Kathleen Kennedy, the judge in Spaccia’s trial, said in 2011.

Spaccia, who is facing 13 counts including conflict of interest and misappropriation of funds, was expected to testify by early next week.

Until Tuesday, when Adams indicated to Kennedy his willingness to testify, the former police chief had invoked his 5th Amendment rights 20 times.

He could have testified on Tuesday, but the proceedings were postponed when a juror reportedly fell ill.

Adams said he had wanted to testify but his attorneys had advised against it, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“At this point in time, I don’t have an attorney telling me not to,” he said.

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