Former Bell assistant city manager Angela Spaccia told jurors Wednesday she had no idea other city employees were earning enormous salaries -- until she read about them in the newspaper.
In her fourth day of testimony Spaccia again denied having a hand in awarding a series of service contracts to a company owned or controlled by her son, and denied she changed language in her employment contract to try and hide the size and value of her vacation pay.
"No, it was a standard template, uh, verbage," Spaccia said, and told jurors the only changes to the language were at the direction of former city manager Robert Rizzo.
Spaccia said she was surprised when she received a 20-percent pay raise in 2006-2007 and said she assumed it was awarded when she was given a more prestigious job title.
Defense attorney Harland Braun has been quizzing Spaccia about volumes of city documents, employment contracts, and emails -- in an effort to show jurors many of the alleged illegal acts could more directly be traced to Rizzo and former city clerk Lourdes Garcia.
"I found a few interesting things," Spaccia said, after she had scanned the contents of Garcia's computer hard drive in preparation for the trial.
Garcia, Spaccia claims, authored one dozen or more loan agreements between Bell and select city employees -- loans prosecutors have used to charge Spaccia with misusing public funds.
Spaccia has also sought to explain emails she exchanged during the recruitment and hiring of former Bell police chief Randy Adams, who testified last week he was joking when he wrote to Spaccia, he was looking forward to taking 'all of Bell's money.'
Spaccia said she knew Adams was joking, and said her email response with the now infamous line about pigs getting fat and hogs getting slaughtered was a warning -- to caution Adams about getting too greedy.
She said Rizzo became interested in hiring Adams after she mentioned Adams had been considered for Orange County Sheriff.
"He [Rizzo] asked me to make contact with Randy Adams and to meet with him in person and discuss it," Spaccia said.
She denied hiding a 'side letter' that guaranteed Bell would support Adams' expected disability claim for a cumulative back injury.
"I don't know where it was housed," she said. "I gave it to Mr. Rizzo and assumed it was going into the personnel file."
Spaccia has been testifying in her own defense -- and was expected to face intense cross examination from prosecutors late in the day.
She's the final witness for the defense.
-- Eric Leonard at Criminal Courts