California ex-city official gets more than 11 years in corruption case

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 10, 2014 3:45 PM

By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) - A former top official for the California city of Bell was sentenced to 11 years and 8 months in prison on Thursday for her role in a public corruption scandal that drew national attention and led to upheaval in the working-class community.

Angela Spaccia, who served as the city's assistant chief administrative officer, was convicted of 11 felony counts in December, including misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest for allegedly writing her own contracts with the city.

Spaccia and her former boss, ex-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, stole $8 million of the nearly $11 million that prosecutors say multiple officials took from Bell, located 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

The scandal, which came to light in a series of Los Angeles Times reports in 2010, fueled a debate over public pay and became an emblem of local government corruption.

Los Angeles District Attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said Spaccia was sentenced to 11 years and 8 months in prison and was ordered to pay $8.2 million in restitution to the city.

Spaccia's attorney, Harland Braun, confirmed his client's sentence but was unavailable for further comment on Thursday.

Spaccia's sentencing comes a day after five former Bell City Council members pleaded no contest to public corruption charges.

Ex-Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo and former council members George Mirabal, Victor Bello and George Cole are scheduled to be sentenced in June and July.

Rizzo, who earned a salary of nearly $800,000, pleaded no contest to 69 felony counts of public corruption in December. He is scheduled to be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison at a hearing on April 16.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jonathan Oatis)