Bell corruption case: Opening statements set for Wednesday in Angela Spaccia trial

Opening Hearing For Bell City Administrators

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File: From left Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 22, 2011 in Los Angeles.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin Wednesday morning in the latest corruption case involving officials from the city of Bell. It will be the ex-assistant city manager – and not former city manager Robert Rizzo – who will be on trial.

Rizzo, who prosecutors call the central figure in the Bell corruption scandal, recently pleaded no contest to 69 public corruption charges.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury will hear the case against Angela Spaccia, 55, who worked with Rizzo.

Prosecutors have charged Spaccia with 13 felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest. Spaccia is accused of helping Rizzo steal taxpayer money by paying themselves high salaries. She made more than $300,000 a year, prosecutors have said.

Spaccia maintains she didn’t do anything illegal and says she’ll take the stand in her own defense. Her lawyer argues being overpaid is not a crime.

Rizzo is required to testify under a deal he made, which is expected to get him a sentence of 10 to 12 years in state prison.

In a separate trial, five former elected Bell officials were convicted of public corruption charges.  They’re awaiting a retrial on additional charges jurors couldn’t reach a verdict on.

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