LOS ANGELES — Angela Spaccia, deputy to the corrupt former city manager of Bell, Calif., was found guilty Monday on 11 felony counts on charges that she and her former boss Robert Rizzo defrauded the working class city of millions of dollars.
The city achieved national notoriety in 2010 following news reports that Rizzo was collecting an $1.18 million salary with benefits, assistant manager Angela Spaccia was receiving $564,000, and all but one of the part-time city council members in the working-class city of 35,000 had rigged the system to receive $100,000 a year.
Spaccia was the seventh official convicted on charges of enriching herself at the expense of taxpayers.
The jury of eight women and four men found Spaccia guilty of 11 of the 13 felony counts she was charged with, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
“I am pleased the jury viewed this extremely complex case for precisely what it was greed,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a prepared statement. “Their reign of fraud left the working-class city of 35,000 nearly bankrupt.”
The pilfering of city funds resulted in the city’s residents paying the second highest property taxes in Los Angeles County after Beverly Hills, Lacey said.
“The people of Bell have a new hero in the Spaccia jury,” Bell City Councilman Nestor Valencia said. “Eleven out of 13 counts of guilty is the justice we have been waiting for.”
Spaccia was found guilty of writing her own employment contracts, taking loans without council approval, removing public documents and creating her own retirement plan that would have cost Bell taxpayers $8 million. She also was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to misappropriate public funds, five counts of misappropriation of public funds, four counts of conflict of interest and one count of secretion of official record.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy declared a mistrial on one count of misappropriation of public funds. Spaccia was found not guilty of one count of secretion of official record.
Rizzo, the city’s former city manager, had pleaded no contest on Oct. 3 to 69 counts that he defrauded the city of millions of dollars. Both he and Spaccia are expected to be sentenced to 10-12 year terms, which would represent the longest prison term for public corruption since the Public Integrity Division was founded in 2000, Lacey said.
Rizzo, who returns for sentencing on March 12, was charged with a variety of schemes that defrauded the City of Bell of millions of dollars, including writing his own employment contracts that were never approved by the City Council, according to the district attorney’s office. His annual salary including benefits soared to $1.18 million.
Spaccia is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22.
Former council members Oscar Hernandez, George Mirabal, Teresa Jacobo, George Cole and Victor Bello were convicted on March 2013 of multiple counts of misappropriation of public funds for pay they received from a sham agency, Bell’s Solid Waste and Recycling Agency. They return to court on Friday for scheduling of a new trial date on the remaining felony counts.