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Bell sues, says ousted police chief must pay back entire salary

Randy Adams
When he was the top cop in Bell, Randy Adams was one of the highest-paid police chiefs in the nation. Now the city wants it all back. After years of scandal that has left the city on the brink of insolvency,  officials filed suit Tuesday, saying Adams owes his old employers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Bell, a working-class city that paid huge salaries to its top administrators, said Adams must repay the city his entire $457,000 annual salary and a portion of the $20 million the city estimates it lost as a result of a corruption scandal that led to the arrests of eight former civic leaders.

The suit can be read as an answer to one the former police chief filed against Bell last month for severance pay. Adams was ousted by the city.

He sued the city for legal costs he spent defending himself against a state attorney general lawsuit that accused him and others of plotting to enrich themselves at city expense. The suit has since been dismissed.

“A lot of people say, 'Why aren’t you going after Randy Adams?' That has been answered today,” said Anthony Taylor, an attorney for Bell.

The lawsuit alleges that Adams looked the other way when confronted with evidence of corruption in the small city in southeast Los Angeles County.

“All it would have taken was one person in authority to blow the whistle,” City Manager Doug Willmore said. “Randy Adams could have been that one person. He wasn’t. He made his choices, and now it’s time to pay the price.”

The suit signals a more aggressive posture by the city in going after its former municipal officials.

Though Adams is not among those charged with public corruption, his contract as police chief weighs heavily in some of the criminal counts. Former City Administrator Robert Rizzo and assistant administrator Angela Spaccia are accused of trying to obscure the size of his contract, which was never approved by the City Council.

“The public should know that the City of Bell will no longer be a cash cow for individuals like Randy Adams,” said Mayor Ali Saleh, who was elected after the former mayor and others were arrested and charged with felonies.

The lawsuit also asks that Adams be forced to pay the city’s costs to settle a whistle- blower lawsuit brought by Bell police Sgt. James Corcoran, who had come to Adams with allegations of voter fraud, unlawful vehicle seizures, illegal selling of building permits and two instances of sexual harassment against Rizzo.

According to the lawsuit, Adams became upset when Corcoran told him he had taken the information to the FBI.

Adams later demoted Corcoran and placed him on administrative leave and started an investigation for insubordination. After he was told he would be fired, Corcoran retired and filed suit against the city.

He recently settled his suit for $400,000 and has been returned to the police force.

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--Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Former Police Chief Randy Adams is suing the city of Bell for severance pay, after being ousted. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times.

 

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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