Spaccia Sentenced To Nearly 12 Years In State Prison In Bell Corruption Scandal
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Former Bell assistant city administrator Angela Spaccia Thursday was sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $8 million in restitution.
Spaccia was found guilty in Dec. 2013 of conspiracy to misappropriate public funds, conflict of interest as it relates to the handling of her pension plan, two counts of misappropriation of public funds based on the amounts of her salary and the salary of former city administrator Robert Rizzo, and three counts of conflict of interest for the handling of her own employment contracts in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
“I’m not saying that Ms. Spaccia is a horrible person; I think she’s a con artist,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said during the sentencing hearing. “It’s all about the money, and it was all about greed.”
The corruption scandal, which drove the city of Bell to the brink of bankruptcy, first came to light in 2010 after hefty salaries of the city officials were exposed.
Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo pleaded no contest to all 69 counts against him. Rizzo, who is set to be sentenced on April 16, faces a minimum of 10 years and maximum of 12 years in state prison. In addition, he pleaded guilty in January to two felony charges: conspiracy and filing a false federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. He faces a maximum of eight years in prison for these charges, which are expected to be served at the same time as the tax charges.
“What they did wasn’t just criminal,” LA County Deputy District Attorney Sean Hassett said. “It’s so outrageous. It’s so offensive. It’s so hurtful and destructive to that city.”
Five former Bell city officials accepted plea deals Wednesday that will cap their prison terms at four years.
A number of Bell residents were also present at the sentencing, and shared their thoughts on Spaccia’s crimes with the court.
“You know, all she does it point fingers, point fingers,” Bell resident Alfred Areyan. “It was everyone else, except me. No, it was you.”
“Now it’s time for justice,” Bell resident Fred Ariano said. “It’s time to see that we the people have justice.”
Meanwhile, prosecutor Hassett says that he considers both Spaccia and Rizzo equally guilty for the scandal, which prosecutors say cost Bell taxpayers $15 million.
“There was definitely an unholy matrimony between the two of them. It was love at first sight between the two of them. They didn’t meet a dollar that they didn’t want to steal from Bell.”