Bell corruption jury could be out a long time, attorneys agree

Former assistant city administrator of Bell, Angela Spaccia, in court.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The jury in the Bell corruption case ended a fourth day of deliberations Wednesday and attorneys on both sides said if jurors are methodical about going through the hundreds of exhibits introduced during the trial, they could be out a long time.

Following four weeks of trial, the government’s case against Angela Spaccia went to the jury Friday around 10:30 a.m. Jurors deliberated the rest of the day and for a full day Monday. They met only from 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday because a juror had child-care problems.

They will return Monday to resume deliberations, a process that likely includes poring through more than 300 exhibits.

FULL COVERAGE: Corruption in Bell


Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman said he didn’t know if he ever had prosecuted a case with this much evidence.

He said that the break over the Thanksgiving holiday shouldn’t make much of a difference in the jury’s deliberations.

“It’s a fool’s game to try to second-guess juries,” he said. “They seem to be a calm and committed jury that is taking their job seriously.”

Spaccia’s attorney, Harland Braun, said that if jurors were arguing, the break could calm down tensions. “It’s a complicated case.”

Spaccia, the former assistant chief administrative officer in Bell, is charged with 13 felonies, including misappropriation of public funds, hiding official documents, conflict of interest and conspiracy to misappropriate public funds.

When she left her job after The Times revealed the high salaries city officials were receiving, Spaccia was making $564,000 a year. Her boss, Robert Rizzo, was earning $1.18 million annually.

The two increased their salaries by accumulating sick and vacation days at a rate that gave them a 50% annual bonus when they cashed them in.

Spaccia’s defense was that while her actions may have been unethical, they weren’t illegal and that her boss, Robert Rizzo, was to blame, along with the city’s finance director, Lourdes Garcia, who was granted immunity by prosecutors.


Rizzo has pleaded no contest to 69 counts of corruption. His sentencing is scheduled for March 12.

James Spertus, Rizzo’s attorney, said the pair are expected to face federal charges of conspiracy to commit tax fraud.


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