Former Bell official guilty of public corruption

BELL - A jury this week found Angela Spaccia, Bell's former assistant chief administrative officer, guilty of a massive public corruption scheme to boost her pay and that of her boss, Robert Rizzo.The jury of eight women and four men found Spaccia guilty of 11 of the 13 felony counts, including writing her own employment contracts, taking loans without council approval, removing public documents and creating her own retirement plan that would have cost Bell taxpayers $8 million. "I am pleased the jury viewed this extremely complex case for precisely what it was - greed," District Attorney Lacey said. "Their reign of fraud left the working-class city of 35,000 nearly bankrupt. Their unbridled greed also forced Bell's 35,000 hardworking residents to pay higher tax rates than residents of Beverly Hills." District Attorney Lacey said Monday's verdicts mean major players in the Bell corruption case now have been convicted. Spaccia joins Rizzo, who pleaded no contest to all 69 felony counts, and five former council members who have been convicted of multiple counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest. District Attorney Lacey called the Bell case "the most significant public corruption case" prosecuted by the office's Public Integrity Division. She commended Deputy District Attorneys Max Huntsman and Sean Hassett and Senior Investigators Gil Miranda and Chandrea Parker for their "unwavering commitment in seeking justice for the people of Bell." The jury found Spaccia guilty of one count of conspiracy to misappropriate public funds, five counts of misappropriation of public funds, four counts of conflict of interest and one count of secretion of official record. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy declared a mistrial on one count of misappropriation of public funds. The jury found Spaccia not guilty of one count of secretion of official record. Spaccia is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22. Rizzo is scheduled to be sentenced to one of the longest prison terms for anyone convicted of public corruption by the office's Public Integrity Division. He returns to court for sentencing on March 12. Former council members Oscar Hernandez, George Mirabal, Teresa Jacobo, George Cole and Victor Bello were convicted in March of multiple counts each of misappropriation of public funds for getting paid for Bell's Solid Waste and Recycling Authority, a sham agency. They return to court Friday to set a new trial date on the remaining felony counts.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35