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Grand jury considers new charges against Bell's Robert Rizzo, Angela Spaccia

March 2, 2011 |  2:09 pm


A Los Angeles grand jury is considering additional charges against former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo and his assistant, Angela Spaccia.

Rizzo and Spaccia -- along with six other current and former Bell officials -- already face charges in a sweeping public-corruption case prosecutors filed last year.

In a copy of a letter from the grand jury to attorneys in the case, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the grand jury indicates it is looking into a supplemental retirement package that was far more generous to Rizzo and Spaccia than other city employees. Such a package, the letter indicated, could constitute a conflict of interest by the pair.

The grand jury also is looking into the contract they put together to hire former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams, which the letter claims was not approved by the City Council. The grand jury also suggested that false documents were created to hide Adams' true salary.

Russell Petti, Spaccia's attorney, said the possible charges were baseless.

"The piecemeal nature of the district attorney's office's investigation reveals that they are more in love with the process of announcing charges than reaching the merits of the case," added James Spertus, Rizzo's attorney.

Adams has not been charged with a crime.

The Times reported in September that Rizzo designed a supplemental pension plan for himself and 40 other Bell city officials that will provide them large taxpayer-financed retirement packages.

The supplemental plan was paid for entirely by Bell tax funds. It allowed Rizzo, who was charged last week with public corruption, and other city employees and all City Council members to circumvent retirement limits set by California. Over the last seven years, the City Council approved increases in the retirement pay for those 41 officials that could raise pensions by about 85%.

The increases mean that Rizzo could receive a pension of nearly $1 million a year, according to Times estimates. Spaccia could receive more than $375,000 a year, compared with the previous estimate of $250,000.

Rizzo and Spaccia stepped down last summer after The Times revealed huge salaries earned by top officials including Rizzo, who was set to earn $1.6 million last year.


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-- Corina Knoll

Photo: Rizzo and Spaccia in court. Credit: L.A. Times