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Spaccia Corruption Trial Verdict Reached

 
Spaccia Corruption Trial Verdict Reached

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Bell's former assistant city administrator was convicted of 11 felonies for conspiring to misappropriate public funds and looting the working-class city's coffers through exorbitant salaries and personal loans of taxpayer money.

Angela Spaccia, 55, appeared to show no emotion as the verdicts reached by the eight-woman, four-man jury were announced following deliberations that stretched over all or a portion of roughly 10 days. Jurors began deliberating Nov. 22 after hearing about 4 1/2 weeks of testimony and a day-and-a-half of closing arguments.

Spaccia was convicted of conspiracy to misappropriate public funds, four counts of conflict of interest, one count of secretion of an official record and five counts of misappropriation of public funds.

She was acquitted of a single count of secretion of a public record as it pertained to the employment contract of former Bell police Chief Randy Adams. Jurors deadlocked on one count of misappropriation of public funds pertaining to an alleged $75,500 loan of taxpayer money in 2003, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy declared a mistrial on that count.

The jury foreman said the panel was deadlocked 6-6 on that count.

Despite arguments from defense attorney Harland Braun, Kennedy ordered that Spaccia be taken into custody, and she was handcuffed in court. Her family members wept in court as she was led out of the courtroom by sheriff's deputies.

“I do think she has had ample time to prepare for this,” Kennedy said.

Sentencing was tentatively set for Jan. 22.

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, who was charged along with Spaccia, pleaded no contest on Oct. 3 to 69 felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds, less than a week before their trial was set to begin. He was not called to the stand during Spaccia's trial and is awaiting sentencing in March.

Deputy District Attorney Sean Hassett told jurors that “Rizzo stole millions of dollars from the city of Bell and Angela Spaccia helped him every step of the way.”  He alleged Spaccia also took public funds for herself “every chance she got” and was involved in crafting secret agreements to pay out unlawful pay raises.

“They broke the law. They stole millions,” Hassett said.

Spaccia was making a base salary of $370,000 that rose to $564,000 annually with vacation and sick pay by 2010, while Rizzo was taking in more than $1 million a year for their work in “a tiny city,” Hassett said.

In his closing argument, Braun acknowledged that Spaccia had been paid too much, but maintained that she was not guilty of any criminal conduct.

“The evidence is only that she was overpaid” but “she never thought anything was illegal,” Braun said.

In a separate trial, five former Bell elected city officials were convicted March 20 of misappropriation of public funds.

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