Bell trial: Ex-police chief surprised city could “afford to hire me”

Randy Adams
Former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams attends the Maywood Police Department’s last inspection before the department disbanded in 2010.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

After years of silence, the former police chief of Bell took the witness stand Wednesday and testified that he was initially “suspicious” about taking the job in the working-class town because of the long legacy of corruption in southeast Los Angeles County.

Randy Adams, who was one of the highest-paid law enforcement officials in the nation when he was forced from his job, said he was stunned by the salary the city offered to pay him.

“I was surprised that a little city like this could afford to hire me” Adams testified.

DOCUMENT: Deposition of Randy Adams


The testimony came in the second week of a corruption trial for Angela Spaccia, the city’s onetime second in command who is accused of 13 corruption-related felonies.

Adams’ testimony was unexpected after his long silence in the Bell corruption case. Last year, during a pension hearing, Adams invoked his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination 20 times when questioned about his salary and contract.

But on Wednesday, Adams told the court that when he was being courted by Bell, he told former chief administrator Robert Rizzo and Spaccia what it would take to hire him -- at least the $260,000 to $270,000 he could be drawing from his retirement pension plus the equivalent of a full police chief’s salary.

The city offered him a salary of $457,000, more than either the Los Angeles police chief or the New York City police commissioner was making.


Adams said Rizzo also insisted that he buy his own furniture and pay for his own car and travel expenses out of his salary.

“That’s highly unusual in California law enforcement,” Adams said. “They wanted me to pay for my own office furniture, my own car, pay my own expenses if I did any training or traveling, those all the things that are paid for by cities or counties,”

Harland Braun, Spaccia’s attorney, asked why Rizzo had set these conditions.

“He felt he was going to pay me a high salary and that I could afford those things,” he said.


Former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams to take stand today 

Man accused of doing meth while living with toddler is due in court

2 L.A. City Council members want to legalize, regulate street vendors


Get our Essential California newsletter