• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Bell corruption trial: Jury begins deliberations

A jury began deliberations Friday on whether the former assistant city manager of Bell is guilty of corruption.
November 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A jury has gone home for the weekend after beginning deliberations Friday on whether the former assistant city manager of Bell is guilty of corruption.

Deputy District Attorney Sean Hassett alleged that Angela Spaccia broke the law when she gave herself huge raises. Spaccia just looked on, occasionally shaking her head in disagreement.

Hasset linked the former assistant city manager repeatedly with former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, who has pleaded no contest to 69 corruption charges.

"Robert Rizzo stole millions from the city of Bell, and Angela Spaccia helped him every step of the way," said Hassett, adding that the two conspired to give themselves giant salaries, benefits and loans with the city's money.

Spaccia's attorney argued on Thursday that their salaries were large - but not criminal.

The jury's deliberations come after five weeks of testimony. Five other Bell city officials were convicted of various corruption charges in a separate trial.

Attorney Harland Braun admitted Spaccia may have exercised poor judgment in accepting an annual compensation package worth $564,000 at its peak. Before being fired, Rizzo was getting a compensation package worth $1.2 million a year. The defense has argued that Rizzo is the real culprit.

Hassett said Spaccia went along with everything, with full knowledge it was wrong.

"It wasn't just outrageous; it was criminal," said the prosecutor. "I ask you to convict her of all charges."

Spaccia faces 13 corruption-related felony charges.

By the time they were fired in 2010, Spaccia and Rizzo were collecting salaries higher than that of the president of the United States for running the tiny, blue-collar suburb where many of the 35,000 residents live below the federal poverty line.

On Friday, Bell Mayor Violeta Alvarez says residents have learned a pricey lesson.

"We need to read, and we need to be informed, and we should not get intimidated because they will tell us, 'Well, we know better than you,'" said Alvarez.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Load Comments