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Bell corruption trial: Closing arguments get underway

Closing arguments got underway Wednesday in the Bell city corruption trial. Angela Spaccia is the sole defendant.
November 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Closing arguments got underway Wednesday in the five-week Bell city corruption trial. Angela Spaccia, the former assistant city administrator, is the sole defendant in the case.

Prosecutor Max Huntsman showed the jury the alleged path Spaccia followed in writing oversized salary and benefits packages for herself and her former boss, Robert Rizzo.

"But there wasn't a mastermind in this case. What there was, was a master and a mind. Mr. Rizzo was in charge. He was the boss. He had the power. He had the authority. But Miss Spaccia made what he wanted to have happen, happen. She was the mind," Huntsman told the jury.

Huntsman pointed to the salary Rizzo was making before Spaccia was hired: $200,000 a year. After Spaccia joined the Bell city staff, Rizzo's salary ballooned to over $1 million a year. The prosecutor says emails indicate Spaccia's consciousness of guilt.

"She specifically told Mr. Adams that 'we have crafted our agreements carefully so we don't draw attention to our pay,'" said Huntsman.

Spaccia has maintained she is innocent of 13 corruption charges. She says she didn't create employment contracts that happened to contain bloated salaries, nor did she know that the city council had to approve them.

According to the judge, there are several prosecution scenarios the jury can use to determine whether Spaccia is guilty:

1. That Spaccia aided and abetted her boss Robert Rizzo, who has already pleaded guilty to 69 felony counts.

2. That she committed criminal acts on her own.

3. That she is criminally negligent, committing unlawful acts even though she didn't realize at the time she was violating the law.

Judge Kathleen Sullivan told the jurors they don't have to agree on any single scenario in order to find Spaccia guilty, however, specific evidence must support the theory.

The prosecution told jurors that their decision should be clear.

"While she may have known right from wrong, she chose to do wrong," said Huntsman.

The prosecutor resumes closing arguments Thursday morning. We will then hear from the defense in the afternoon.


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