Angela Spaccia, the former second-highest public official in the small Los Angeles suburb of Bell, California, was slammed with almost 12 years in prison Thursday after being convicted in December of a massive corruption scheme that nearly bankrupted the city of just over 35,000.
Spaccia was convicted on December 9 of five counts of misappropriating public funds, as well as four counts of conflict of interest, one count of conspiracy and one of hiding a official public record.
But the story of Angela Spaccia and her boss Robert Rizzo, who Spaccia’s own lawyers called “a dictator,” is as outrageous as it is appalling. Spaccia wrote her own employment contracts, paying herself a $564,000 per year salary — giving herself raise after raise from her starting salary of $102,310. She also arranged for the city to give her two six-figure loans in 2009 and 2010.
“This was not a one-time lapse of judgment on defendant Spaccia’s part; it was a criminally sophisticated conspiracy that drove the city of Bell to the edge of bankruptcy,” said prosecutor Sean Hassett in his sentencing memorandum to the court. He said that Angela Spaccia and Robert Rizzo committed their crimes over a period of seven years and that their corrupt schemes “were carefully planned and executed, and she took great care to conceal them.”
In her trial, Spaccia attempted to portray herself as a hapless victim, manipulate by the corrupt Rizzo, but prosecutors called that claim “outrageous” and a jury agreed. Instead, Hassett said, Rizo and Spaccia were enthusiastic partners in an brazen scheme to drain Bell’s taxpayers dry.
“It was love at first sight between the two of them,” said Hassett. “They never met a dollar in the city of Bell they didn’t like.”
In all, eight of the town’s officials were arrested in connection with the unrestrained plunder of the small city’s treasury. Rizzo himself has already pleaded no contest to 69 corruption charges and faces between 10 and 12 years in prison.
Some of the most damaging evidence presented against Angela Spaccia came in a series of e-mails between Spaccia and her friend Randy Adams, who was hired as Bell police chief at a massive $475,000 salary.
“I am looking forward do seeing you and taking all of Bell’s money?! Okay… just a share of it.!!” wrote Adams to Spaccia.
Spaccia then replied, “LOL… well you can take your share of the pie… just like us!!! We all will get fat together… Bob has an expression he likes to use on occasion… Pigs get Fat… Hogs get slaughtered!!! So long as we’re not Hogs… all is well!!”
In recommending that Angela Spaccia go to prison for “a lengthy, lengthy term,” Hassett said, “She’s got it coming. She laughed out loud the entire time she was stealing Bell’s money.”