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Angela Spaccia ends testimony on contentious note; defense rests

November 19, 2013|By Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives
  • Angela Spaccia, the former assistant city administrator in Bell, listens to opening arguments in her corruption trial.
Angela Spaccia, the former assistant city administrator in Bell, listens… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

After seven days on the witness stand, Angela Spaccia finished her testimony and the defense rested its case in the trial of Bell's former second-in-command, who is accused of 13 corruption-related charges.

The trial is expected to wrap up this week and head to the jury.

Her cross-examination ended on a contentious note as she told jurors that she continued to draw her full salary and benefits even though she didn't work for about 18 months to take care of her ailing grandfather and son. She was never docked a single vacation or sick day and continued to draw her full salary and benefits.

In his cross-examination, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Sean Hassett zeroed in on the time Spaccia spent in Idaho to take care of her dying grandfather in 2005 and 2006.

"You think the people of Bell should have to pay for you to not work for them during this six-month period of time?" Hassett asked.

"That's an interesting question," she answered. "I've never looked at it that way."

"Do you?"

"I don't even know how to answer that. I looked at it that my employer made a decision on how to handle my pay and [vacation and sick leave] accruals. Is that fair or unfair? I don't know."

Part of Spaccia's defense is that she couldn't have committed the crimes she's accused of because she wasn't in Bell much of the time. Her boss, Robert Rizzo, the former chief administrative officer, pleaded no contest last month to 69 felonies and is expected to be sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison.

After an emotional day in court, Harland Braun, Spaccia's attorney, said his client was unscathed.

"She's admitted she was overpaid, she's admitted that some of the money may have to be paid back to the city of Bell," he said. "There's a lot of ethical issues, moral issues, maybe civil law issues involved here. But they're not criminal."

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jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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