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Closing Arguments Begin In Bell Corruption Trial

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury will hear closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of the former assistant manager of the corruption-riddled city of Bell.

Angela Spaccia has been the sole defendant in the case after disgraced City Manager Robert Rizzo, who was charged with bilking the blue-collar city out of millions of dollars, took a plea deal in October.

Spaccia faces 13 counts of misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest and other charges.

Rizzo spent 17 years as Bell city manager but only began upping salaries in later years, ultimately drawing $800,000 a year as part of a compensation package worth $1.5 million a year.

Spaccia was paid more than $375,000 a year plus benefits. Three of the charges she faces relate to more than $300,000 in loans Rizzo granted her.

Spaccia’s attorney Harland Braun has said Spaccia didn’t realize what Rizzo was doing was illegal.

Last March, five former Bell City Council members were convicted of fraud charges after jurors determined they paid themselves six figure salaries for sitting on boards and commissions that did no work and existed only to pay the defendants. The council members blamed Rizzo for that, saying he assured them they were doing nothing wrong. Jurors deadlocked on some charges that remain to be retried. One council member was acquitted.

Bell is home to some 35,000 residents, many of whom live below the federal poverty line. After the scandal broke, they held a recall election and threw out all of the City Council members. By then, Rizzo and Spaccia had been fired.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Bell Corruption Trial

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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