The former second-in-command in the scandal-plagued city of Bell became the first person sentenced in the city’s massive public corruption case Thursday, ordered to spend 11 years and eight months in prison for misappropriating public funds from one of Los Angeles County’s poorest cities.
Angela Spaccia, who has been jailed since she was convicted in December on 11 corruption-related charges, has consistently denied any wrongdoing, pinning the blame on the city’s strong-willed chief executive and arguing that she wasn’t even at City Hall when much of the wrongdoing took place.
Spaccia said her $564,000-a-year salary was perhaps unethical but not illegal. Her salary was boosted by 26 weeks annual vacation and sick leave she cashed out each year, amounting to a 50% pay increase.
In a sentencing memo, prosecutors said Spaccia was an unrepentant criminal.
“Her testimony at trial was outrageous, and clearly shows that she has nothing but contempt for the judicial system,” the memo reads. “Defendant Spaccia has been lying and getting away with it for so long that it was inconceivable to her that she would ever be caught, let alone punished.”
The former assistant city manager was one of eight city leaders arrested and charged with looting the small town’s treasury, a case so widespread that former Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley called it “corruption on steroids.”
Prosecutors claimed that council members in the city were paid lavishly for serving on boards and commissions that rarely met and that the city’s chief executive, Robert Rizzo, loaned out city money, wrote his own contracts and attempted to conceal how much he and his top lieutenants were earning.
During her trial, witnesses described Spaccia as a manipulator who was so consumed by money that city staffers joked she was “sleeping with her paycheck.”
Some of the most damning evidence against her were the email exchanges she had with longtime friend Randy Adams when they were negotiating his $457,000-a-year deal as the town’s new police chief.
“I am looking forward do seeing you and taking all of Bell’s money?!” Adams wrote. “Okay ... just a share of it.!!”
“LOL ... well you can take your share of the pie ... just like us!!! We all will get fat together ... Bob has an expression he likes to use on occasion ...
“Pigs get Fat ... Hogs get slaughtered!!! So long as we’re not Hogs ... all is well!!”