Trial update #2: I am keeping an eye on the Bell/Spaccia trial. It went to the jury before Thanksgiving, and, as far as I know, the jury is still deliberating. (There wasn’t much to report towards the end; just the usual “Rizzo did it”.) I suspect the holidays threw things off quite a bit; stay tuned for details as I get them.
Perhaps one of the worst things about committing a crime, or even being charged with one, is all the background stuff that tends to leak out about you. Your tastes in porn, booze, interior decoration…all of those things come out at trial.
You may beat the rap, but you can’t beat the embarrassment of everyone knowing that you scammed money to pay for cheap vodka or lap dances from low-end strippers or Michael Jackson memorablia.
Surely you would think that these folks could afford to pay for their own weight loss and baldness treatments. But they didn’t, and now everyone knows.
(And to be clear, I don’t throw stones at people who get hair plugs or go to weight loss resorts. I throw stones at people who scam money from the taxpayers to do those things. “Tax-fattened hyena”, indeed.)
What does this have to do with corruption in Bell? Well, Spaccia texted that photo to Randy Adams, the former police chief, and it was introduced as evidence during Adams’ testimony yesterday. I think the prosecution’s intent is to establish that the Adams/Spaccia relationship went beyond the bounds of “professional”: not necessarily romantic, but perhaps a closer friendship than either one is letting on. (In turn, I guess this is intended to make the jury question Adams’ testimony for Spaccia.)
“Longtime councilwoman” Wendy McCammack. This is interesting because Ms. McCammack was also the top vote-getter in the San Bernardino mayor’s race. However, there were a total of 10 candidates, and she got “just under” 25% of the vote. I wonder how many of the eight other candidates are going to throw their support to her, and how many will support “Carey Davis, an accountant and political newcomer”.
City attorney James Penman. City attorney is an elected rather than appointed position? Interesting.
Robert Jenkins, “charged with more than 30 felony and misdemeanor counts related to allegedly posting ads on Craigslist for sex partners and directing them to a former partner and another man”.
I haven’t been giving much attention to the Angela Spaccia/Bell trial. Most of what I’ve seen in the LAT has been the usual back and forth we’ve seen in the other trials: “City council approved!” “Did not!” “Did too!” “Rizzo’s a big poopy head and it was all his fault!”
(There have been a few amusing bits I missed covering. Among them:
The contracts in question being those for Spaccia and Robert “Ratso” Rizzo. This is interesting: while I can’t find the story now, I do recall reading that former Bell finance director Lourdes Garcia slipped contracts for Spaccia and Rizzo into stacks of other documents that were signed blindly by city officials.)
So Robert “Ratso” Rizzo, former city manager of Bell, is going to prison. He’s expected to be sentenced to somewhere between 10 to 12 years (the actual sentencing is scheduled for March), and he’ll probably do about half that time.
Ratso also has to pay compensation to the city of Bell. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been a final decision on the amount (I’m guessing that will be part of his sentencing) but it could be up to $3.2 million.
Where will that money come from? Rizzo sold his house at a loss, and it looks like the same thing is happening with his ranch.
Two places the money won’t come from: Rizzo’s retirement account, and his pension of $116,628 a year.
It looks like the Perls family stipulates at least part of these claims, specifically the parts about the Swiss bank accounts. But they also claim that part of the reason Perls had a Swiss bank account is so he could transfer profits to Calder’s Swiss bank account.
Nobody was injured. Mark Berry, one of the two men responsible, spent 30 days in juvenile detention. And he now works for the DWP.
(I love this telling detail: “The air was filled with the banana-like smell of nitroglycerin.”)
(And this one: “Berry said his father, as yet unaware that his son was one of the culprits, boasted to a neighbor, ‘If I ever find out who bombed the gates I’ll buy him a steak dinner.’” Gardner Dozois and Edward Abbey, please call your offices.)
(Since I made a “That ’70s Show” reference, I believe I have to link to this Penny Arcade. Especially since I am all about fish out of water prison dramas.)
The courts are busy. Here’s a couple of quick things:
Fred Yazdi has been convicted of murder. I touched on this story briefly back when it was fresh, but mostly ignored the trial: a drunk guy crashed his car, walked away from the wreck, and wound up in Yazdi’s front yard. Yazdi confronted him, and ended up shooting him – according to Yazdi, in self-defense. I have a feeling this is not over yet. In any case, it gives me an opportunity to repeat the point I made at the time (and which has been made better by other people): “Use your gun defensively, and even if it is a good shoot, your life is going to change; probably not for the better.”
The trial of Angela Spaccia, former assistant city manager of Bell, who served under Robert “Ratso” Rizzo, and who Rizzo is blaming for much of Bell’s corruption, started yesterday. So far, we’re just in the opening arguments stage. But I did want to make note of this:
We already knew that Rizzo was rolling on his former assistant, Angela Spaccia. You may remember that the former Bell city council members who went on trial adopted the “throw Rizzo under the bus” strategy. Now that Rizzo is taking a plea and cooperating, his plan is to throw Spaccia under the bus:
10 to 12 years in state prison. I have only one thing to say about this:
You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!
(The comments at the LAT do raise some interesting questions: is this part of a deal where Rizzo is going to roll on the other council members? Remember, all but one of the indicted council members still have retrials pending. Also, Angela Spaccia, Rizzo’s former assistant, is still facing trial; will he roll on her? And there’s no mention in the LAT that Rizzo will have to pay any restitution.)
Edited to add: The LAT is still updating coverage:
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