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Shocking Emails in Bell Corruption Trial Refer Openly to Taking City’s Money

In this Feb. 2011 photo, former Bell assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, left, confers with her former boss, Robert Rizzo at their preliminary hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court. (Photo Credit: Ifan Khan)

The former assistant city manager of the corruption-riddled city of Bell used a secret formula concocted by her and her one-time boss to take millions of dollars from the city’s coffers — a scheme that wasn’t discovered until they were forced to publicly disclose their earnings, a prosecutor said.

Showing a series of emails, contracts and other documents, Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman told a jury in his opening statements that Angel Spaccia, 55, boosted her own salary and gave herself additional benefits for at least several years unbeknownst to the public.

By the time Spaccia and her former boss, ex-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, were arrested three years ago, Huntsman said, they had been making upward of $560,000 and nearly $1.2 million, respectively, with their annual salaries, accrued sick and vacation days and loans.

“That was the end of the gravy train,” Huntsman said.

Spaccia is on trial on 13 counts, including misappropriation of funds. If convicted, she faces up to 16 years in state prison.

Rizzo, who has been depicted as the mastermind of the brazen municipal corruption scandal that drove the modest Los Angeles suburb to the brink of bankruptcy, recently pleaded no contest to 69 counts of fraud, conflict of interest and other charges. In agreeing to testify against Spaccia and other former city officials, he will be sentenced to no more than 10 to 12 years in prison instead of a possible maximum of 70 years.

Huntsman said Spaccia’s involvement in the corruption scheme was documented in her own words.

In a 2009 email exchange with incoming Police Chief Randy Adams, Spaccia promised him they will enrich themselves as long as they don’t get too greedy.

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