More than four years after the LA Times broke the story of massive corruption and fraud in the small community of Bell, the trials continue in the beat up , aging, smelly, elevator -impaired criminal courts building in Downtown Los Angeles.
Open to the public on the 9th (security) floor, come on down and watch the District Attorney's office trying to convict former Bell Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia of 13 charges of misappropriation of funds, conflict of interest.
She paid herself about $380 thousand before the bubble burst. Today the Police Chief she helped hire ( for a year ) at $ 457 K testified, under subpoena, that he was told it was all legit and legal, even though he was ‘‘surprised'' at the amount. He said Spaccia was an old friend. Friendly enough even for her to text him a photo of herself smoking a cigar in a bathrobe in Vegas when he asked her on the phone what she was doing. Spaccia, who has well known criminal defense attorney Harland Braun on her team, claims she was simply a pawn in the game orchestrated by her former boss , Robert Rizzo.
Rizzo, of course, if you've been following this drama, suddenly pleaded guilty to literally 69 corruption related counts, and will be sentenced later to about 12 years. He paid himself a base salary of almost 800 thousand dollars, padded his vacation and sick time so he got more than a million a year. He still gets his pension , by the way, from 30 years in government service, but much less than he had set up for himself in 17 years in Bell.
Earlier this year, five of six former Bell City Council people were convicted of fraud charges. Tthey have not yet been sentenced, as there were several counts where the jury was hung so the plan is to retry them on those accounts, so the judge wants to wait and tie it up in one big prison bow.
Meantime, the city of Bell moves on with new elected officials and a notoriety that it never wanted. And as so far, despite all that's come out and happened, no one has gone to prison. Yet.