Bell administrator who joked about getting 'fat' off city was trying to save taxpayer money, attorney says [Updated]
Bell's former assistant city administrator was "trying to save the city of Bell money," not reveling in getting "fat together" off the public dime as newly released e-mails suggest, her attorney said Monday.
Documents released in court Monday show an unflattering e-mail exchange between then-Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and Randy Adams, who at the time was Bell's soon-to-be police chief. The two joke about taking their "share of the pie."
But Spaccia's attorney Russell Petti said that when his client wrote the e-mails, she was trying to get Adams to agree to a less-lucrative benefits package. Adams and then-City Administrator Robert Rizzo had already agreed on his $457,000 annual salary, Petti said.
"Mr. Adams wanted a number of other things, perks, and it was Angela's job to talk him down from it," Petti said. "At the end of the day, she was trying to save the city of Bell money. Rather than rushing to give Mr. Adams everything he wanted, she was trying to get him on board with the lowest price he would take."
Petti said Spaccia wrote the e-mails to someone she had known for many years -- she had worked with Adams in Ventura. "The intent of that is, 'Look, we're all very well compensated by the city and let's not be pigs about it,'" Petti said.
[Updated at 2:50 p.m.: Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien, who is representing Adams, said Monday his client's e-mail was taken out of context.
"Chief Adams made a single imprudent comment during contract negotiations in which he was recruited heavily due to his stellar reputation as a 36-year law enforcement official," O'Brien said. "The entire e-mail chain underscores that Randy Adams did nothing more than accept a compensation package offered to him by the city of Bell."]
Petti acknowledged that the e-mails would not look good to a jury.
"Ms. Spaccia wishes she had worded them differently," he said. "But other than the incendiary effect of the e-mail, it doesn't go far in advancing the ball that Ms. Spaccia is guilty of anything."
Petti said he expected the preliminary hearing for Spaccia and Rizzo to begin next week. They are charged with corruption and misappropriation of public funds.
-- Jeff Gottlieb
Photo: Angela Spaccia in court last year. Credit: L.A. Times