In a surprise move Tuesday, former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams told a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge that he plans to testify in the corruption case against the city’s second-in-command, Angela Spaccia.
“I will testify,” said Adams, who in one brief appearance on the witness stand had invoked the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination 20 times.
Adams is expected to take the stand at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
He may help fill in some of the blanks in the scandal that rocked the small city in southeastern Los Angeles County and forced him from his job.
Although he was named in a state attorney general’s lawsuit against eight Bell officials, he has not been charged with a crime.
Even Judge Kathleen Kennedy, who is presiding over Spaccia’s trial, wondered why he wasn’t facing charges along with six former Bell council members, Spaccia and Robert Rizzo, the city’s former chief administrative officer. “I don’t know why he is not a defendant in this case,” Kennedy said at a routine hearing two years ago.
Questions about Adams continued to mount when he invoked the 5th Amendment repeatedly last year during a hearing in which he challenged the California Public Employees’ Retirement System‘s decision not to include his $457,000-a-year salary as Bell chief when computing his retirement pay. Had it been included, his pension would have jumped to $510,000 a year from about $240,000.
Speaking outside the courtroom Tuesday, Adams said he had wanted to testify but his attorneys had advised against it.
“At this point in time, I don’t have an attorney telling me not to,” he said.
Adams defended his one-year stint as Bell police chief.
“I went to the city of Bell and honorably served them as their chief,” he said. “My concern is to set forth the facts honestly and correctly.”
Although few people knew about it, Adams, 62, laid out his side of the story in a deposition taken by Bell attorneys in May in connection with his lawsuit asking the city to pay his legal bills and demanding severance pay.
In the deposition, Adams tried to explain the infamous email exchange between him and Spaccia during contract negotiations that seemed to symbolize the greed of Bell officials. “I’m looking forward to see you and taking all of Bell’s money?!,” Adams wrote in 2009. “Okay ... just a share of it.”
Spaccia answered, “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!”
Adams said that he and Spaccia, friends for more than 30 years, were joking. He was getting ready to retire as Glendale’s police chief, and he said he had told Spaccia and Rizzo they would have to pay him more than he would earn from his pension and from taking temporary jobs as interim police chief.
“I kept telling them that it was going to take all of Bell’s money to hire me, and I didn’t think they could afford it,” Adams testified. “And they kept saying they could. And so I was jesting with her about that at the end of this email. And then she made a response basically that is telling me not to get greedy.”
Adams said he regretted sending the message “because it’s been taken way out of context and is not what was intended,” he said.