Angela Spaccia, the city of Bell's former second in command, was handcuffed and taken into custody Monday evening, minutes after a jury convicted her on 11 counts of misappropriating public funds and other corruption charges.
As the verdict was read, Spaccia's family held hands and cried. Spaccia, however, showed little emotion. She did not shed any tears, even as she was being handcuffed.
The stoicism was a marked contrast to the seven days she spent on the witness stand. She cried several times then, usually when talking about family tragedies. During one emotional moment of testimony, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy rolled her eyes.
The jury returned the verdict after eight days of deliberation. They were deadlocked 6-6 on one count of misappropriating public funds, in connection to a $77,500 loan Spaccia received from the city. She was found not guilty on one count of secretion of official records.
"I'm relieved to know that the jury saw through her act," Bell Councilman Ali Saleh said. "It is infuriating that she has shown no remorse for her actions. I hope the judge applies the full extent of the law at her."
"And while this verdict is another step in Bell's recovery," he said, "the work is far from over. We still have a long road ahead. Every day the council struggles to piece together our broken government, rebuild the public's trust and pay off the millions of dollars Spaccia and the rest of the Rizzo regime stole."
Bell Mayor Violeta Alvarez said she believes Spaccia was the brain behind "many of the schemes to loot the city’s treasury."
"She deserves to go to jail for many years," Alvarez said.
Councilman Nestor Enrique Valencia said in an email: “The people of Bell have a new hero in the Spaccia jury. ... Eleven out of 13 count of GUILTY is the justice we have been waiting for."
Bell City Manager Doug Willmore said the guilty verdict marks another major milestone for the city and enables Bell to move forward.
In the last year, the city has passed its first annual budget in more than 20 years and is projected to increase its reserves from 2% in 2010 to 14% in fiscal 2014, Willmore said.
Spaccia tried to distance herself from Rizzo and show that she too was a victim. When prosecutors shook up the trial by showing that after a council resolution had passed, a phrase was added giving Rizzo what he claimed was more power, Spaccia was dismayed.
"That's pretty disgusting," she said. "I obviously trusted someone I should have not."
Rizzo, who did not testify, pleaded no contest in October to 69 counts of corruption.