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Bell trial: 'Pigs get fat' email was only a joke, Spaccia testifies

November 13, 2013|By Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives
  • Former Bell Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia is shown last month.
Former Bell Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia is shown last… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)

The chain of emails that has come to symbolize the greed of Bell's top leaders was actually a joke, the city’s former second-in-command testified Wednesday in her trial on felony corruption charges.

The emails became infamous in the wake of the salary scandal in Bell that led to the arrests of eight city leaders, including Angela Spaccia, who has been on the witness stand in her own defense since last week.

Even Harland Braun, Spaccia’s attorney, referred to them Wednesday as "the emails that have become so famous."

FULL COVERAGE: Corruption in Bell

In one such message, Randy Adams wrote to Spaccia in 2009 as they were negotiating the contract that eventually would pay him $457,000 a year to be Bell's police chief, far more than the salary of the Los Angeles police chief or the police commissioner in New York City.

“I am looking forward do seeing you and taking all of Bell’s money?!" Adams wrote. "Okay…just a share of it.!!

Spaccia 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 her testimony Wednesday, Spaccia said she was kidding, and at the same time was getting annoyed with Adams' negotiating points. Spaccia said she was negotiating on behalf of Robert Rizzo, then Bell's chief administrative officer.

“I regret that I ever joked around," she said. "All I as trying to do was be nice but funny, witty. I was trying to relay Mr. Rizzo’s message. He knew Mr. Rizzo’s philosophy. Mr. Rizzo had already told him he could write his own ticket…It was going to be a lot of money..In a nutshell I was saying back, ha ha ha, don’t be greedy because you are being a pig.”

When he testified last week, Adams said the exchange was made in jest.

About five weeks after that first email exchange, as they continued to negotiate, Adams said he wanted the term "pay period" defined in his contract.

“We have crafted our agreements carefully so we do not draw attention to our pay," Spaccia wrote the chief. "The word Pay Period is used and not defined in order to protect you from someone taking the time to add up your salary.”

Spaccia testified Wednesday that Adams wanted the definition in case Rizzo changed the pay period from every two weeks to twice a month, which would reduce his annual compensation by two weeks' pay.

“I was disgusted because he was going to get paid so much money and the city provided good benefits for all employees," said Spaccia, whose salary would hit $564,000 a year. "My thought was, so what if he did? You’d lose two weeks pay, big deal.”

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jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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