Bell trial: Spaccia was off 18 months with full pay, benefits

Despite not working for about 18 months straight to take care of her ailing grandfather and son, Bell's second-ranked administrator was never docked a single vacation or sick day and continued to draw her full salary and benefits.

At the same time while she was out, she continued to build up more vacation and sick leave, which was used to repay large loans she had taken from the city, Angela Spaccia testified Monday. In all, Spaccia received about $350,000 in city loans which prosecutors contend were illegal.

Spaccia, who was second-in-command in Bell when the city became engulfed in a salary scandal, is fighting 13 corruption-related charges and has been on the witness stand seven days.

FULL COVERAGE: Corruption in Bell

Dep. Dist. Atty. Sean Hassett focused on the time Spaccia spent in Idaho to take care of her grandfather in 2005 and 2006.

“You think the people of Bell should have to pay for you to not work for them during this six-month period of time?" Hassett asked.

“That’s in interesting question," she answered. "I’ve never looked at it that way.”

"Do you?”

“I don’t even know how to answer that. I looked at it that my employer made a decision on how to handle my pay and accruals. Is that fair or unfair? I don’t know.”

Part of Spaccia's defense is that she couldn't have committed the crimes she is accused of because she wasn't in Bell much of the time. Her boss, Robert Rizzo, the former chief administrative officer, pleaded no contest last month to 69 felonies.

Spaccia's testimony Monday was the most contentious since her cross examination began last week.

"Now you're making stuff up," she told Hassett at one point.

While she and the prosecutor were arguing over Bell's buying five years of pension credit for her, Rizzo and other top city managers, Spaccia peered over her reading glasses and looked at the jury. "I’m so sorry,” she said.

Spaccia told jurors that when she was loaned to neighboring Maywood to serve as interim city manager in February 2010, Rizzo told her he would reduce her $130,000 loan balance by $10,000 a month. That is the same sum Maywood had agreed to pay Bell for running its city services.

Hassett asked her whether "the people of Bell" should have paid her salary to serve as Maywood's top administrator.

"I wouldn't have done it that way," she answered.

Spaccia also said that despite the time she was off, she worked long hours she wasn't paid for.

“And you believe the city of Bell owes you more money and you were undercompensated?” Hassett asked.

“I’ve put in plenty of hours on the city of Bell that don’t reflect on a calendar or a time sheet."

Spaccia's salary hit $564,000 a year by the time she was forced out of Bell in summer 2010.

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