Angela Spaccia, the second-in-command in Bell when the city erupted in scandal, insisted in court Friday that she was not guilty of the corruption that made the small city a symbol for municipal graft.
Spaccia, who talked briefly with reporters, said that her former boss, Robert Rizzo -- and not herself -- was the mastermind of the wrongdoing in the Los Angeles County city.
Jury selection for her case will begin Monday, and her attorney said he expected that a trial could begin as soon as Oct. 22.
It was the first time Spaccia had appeared in court since Rizzo -- long seen as the architect of the wrongdoing in Bell -- pointed the finger at her at her as the architect of the high salaries, doctored paperwork and other alleged crimes that left the small town on the brink of bankruptcy.
In pleading no contest to all 69 charges he faced, Rizzo, through his attorney, vowed that his client would now testify against Spaccia and that she would be revealed as “the mastermind” of the scheme to misappropriate city money and falsify records to cover up the huge salaries being lavished on ranking administrators.
James Spertus, Rizzo’s attorney, said it was Spaccia who came up with the plans for the extravagant salaries and filing fraudulent tax documents for Rizzo and herself.
Spaccia’s attorney, Harlan Braun, said he was shocked by the allegation and doubted that a jury would ever find Rizzo to be a credible witness.
Spaccia was Rizzo’s longtime second-in-command who pulled in a salary of $376,000 a year and doubled as the top administrator in neighboring Maywood, a city that let go most of its civic employees after it lost its insurance in 2010.
Though facing 13 corruption-related charges in the Bell scandal, Spaccia's attorney has painted her as a victim of Rizzo’s scheming to loot the small town’s treasury.
Bruan tried to have his client’s trial separated from Rizzo’s, saying that just appearing in the same courtroom with the former city administrator would leave her “tainted by association with Rizzo.” When the judge refused, Braun vowed that the trial would be “a bloodbath.”
While she has largely escaped the level of attention that was focused on Rizzo, Spaccia did make headlines when a series of emails were revealed that captured her negotiating a contract with Randy Adams, who was hired as Bell’s highly paid police chief.
In an email to Spaccia, Adams wrote: "I am looking forward to seeing you and taking all of Bell's money?! Okay ... just a share of it!!"
Spaccia responded: "LOL ... well you can take your share of the pie ... just like us!!! We will all get fat together ... Bob has an expression he likes to use on occasion. Pigs get Fat ... Hogs get slaughtered!!!! So as long as we're not Hogs ... All is well!"