Former City of Bell Administrator Found Guilty in Corruption Trial

Ex-assistant city manager Angela Spaccia was found guilty in corruption trial

Bell's former assistant chief administrator was convicted on Monday of misappropriating public funds.

Jurors deliberated since Nov. 22 in the downtown Los Angeles trial of Angela Spaccia, who was charged with 13 corruption-related felony counts including misappropriation of public funds and conspiracy involving millions of taxpayer dollars.

She was convicted of 11 of the 13 counts.

Spaccia was acquitted of one count of secretion of an official record, as it pertained to former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams' employment contract.

Jurors were deadlocked 6-6 on the remaining count of misappropriation of public funds pertaining to $77,500 loan she allegedly received in 2003. Judge Kathleen Kennedy declared a mistrial on that count.

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Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacy applauded her office for prosecuting what she described as one of the worst cases of public corruption in county history. She said the former Bell administrators stole more than $6 million in a "reign of fraud" that left the small city nearly bankrupt.

"It's a bittersweet victory for the residents of Bell for what amounts to grant theft paycheck," she said. "Public service is an important position of trust. Don't think you're invincible because you're a public official."

Doug Willmore, the city manager of Bell, quickly issued a press release, saying the guilty verdict "marks another major milestone" for the city.

"Justice has been served with Angela Spaccia, and the citizens of Bell can now look to building a brighter future as the city recovers from the devastating crimes committed by these individuals," Willmore said.

Photos: Outrage in City of Bell

If she had been found guilty on all counts, Spaccia could have faced up to 16 years in state prison. She's scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22.

Spaccia's attorney, Harlan Braun, was disappointed in the outcome, saying that her former boss, then-City Manager Robert Rizzo, controlled the city's finances, not her.

"The amounts of money were so great and the position of public trust were such that the jury held the public official to a very high standard," he said.

But prosecutors say Rizzo stole millions of dollars from the city and Spaccia “helped him every step of the way.”

Prosecutors called the salaries and retirement package figures in the tiny southeast Los Angeles County city of Bell "ridiculous sums of money."

Spaccia was making a base salary of $370,000, prosecutors said. By 2010, she was earning $564,000 annually with vacation and sick pay. Rizzo was taking in more than $1 million a year, prosecutors said.

Spaccia’s defense attorney Harland Braun told jurors that she was paid too much -- but she wasn't involved in criminal conduct. 

Rizzo pleaded no contest Oct. 3 to 69 felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds, less than a week before their trial was set to begin.

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