Jurors in Bell city corruption trial expected to hear closing arguments Wednesday

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Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday in the criminal corruption trial of former Bell assistant city manager Angela Spaccia. She faces 13 felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds.  

For seven days in Los Angeles Superior court, Spaccia testified in her own defense. She appeared confident at times and teary-eyed at others.

Prosecutors argue that Spaccia conspired behind closed doors with her boss — former Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo — to pay themselves and others huge salaries, essentially stealing millions of dollars from Bell taxpayers.  

Before the scandal broke in 2010, Spaccia was making more than $560,000 a year, including vacation and sick time.

Prosecutors showed the jury emails between Spaccia and ex-police chief Randy Adams discussing high salaries. They also displayed exorbitant retirement plans and highlighted numerous months she took off, but still got paid her full salary.  

Spaccia has maintained she did nothing wrong. She has suggested a finance director fudged public documents, testified that her boss Rizzo called all the shots and revealed she felt grateful — and guilty at times — that Rizzo paid her so much money.

Spaccia’s attorney Harland Braun has continuously described to reporters how he says Rizzo dealt with managers.

“Pay them over the scale, they won’t leave Bell to go somewhere else. They had better work their tails off, they can be fired at 30 days notice and they had very little staff," Braun said.  

If convicted on all counts, Angela Spaccia could face more prison time than the ex-city manager. Rizzo pleaded no contest last month to 69 felony charges and could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

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