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Bell Taxpayers Could Pay for Rizzo, Spaccia, Adams Lawsuits

By Brian Hews and Randy Economy

Former and current Bell city employees,

(Bell)-Los Cerritos Community News has obtained a city of Bell Staff Report to the city council from attorney David Aleshire of Aleshire and Wynder, LLP that outlines attorney costs in excess $1.1 million to fight lawsuits filed against the city by individual members of the Bell Eight-Robert Rizzo, Angela Spaccia, Randy Adams and Eric Eggena.

 

LCCN has also learned that other public funds might be owed as a result of these lawsuits and taxpayers in the cash strapped city could be on the hook for a total of $2.1 million in awards and over $6.1 million in unfunded liabilities as the trial gets underway in a Downtown Los Angeles County Court Room.

 

Former Bell City Manager Rizzo filed a complaint against the city alleging breach of his employment contract and is seeking “unpaid benefits and wages.”

 

Rizzo alleges the city did not give him 30-days’ notice about his employment departure.

 

Legal experts believe that one of the main issues in his corruption case is that Rizzo was required to be prosecuted and convicted in a court of law before being fired.

 

Rizzo claims the city owes him $1.5 million in severance.

 

The city’s insurance company has indicated to Aleshire that Rizzo might prevail. Cost of litigation is estimated at $250,000.

 

Rizzo is suing ICMA Retirement, the entity that manages some of Rizzo’s funds.

Aleshire filed a cross-complaint that some of the funds in the account are stolen. The total balance in the account is $1.2 million, Los Cerritos Community Newspaper has been able to confirm.

 

The trial set for March 12, 2013 with an estimated cost estimate of $125,000.

 

Rizzo has also appealed the CalPERS determination of his retirement benefits based on his tenure at Bell. Rizzo is asking for a staggering $58,000 per month, $700,000 per year and CalPERS is countering that Rizzo should be paid only $7,100 per month or $85,000 per year.

 

If Rizzo prevails in his claim, it would cost the city an additional $4.4 million in unfunded liability, hearing is set for Feb. 2013.  The estimated cost for that specific legal point is an additional $60,000.

 

Former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia also filed a complaint against the city alleging unpaid wages and for indemnification and defense cost for the criminal cases against her. Trial date for Spaccia is set for March 13, 2013.

 

Spaccia is suing for $800,000, and the estimated court cost to taxpayers could be an additional $250,000.

 

Like Rizzo, Spaccia has appealed the CalPERS determination of her retirement benefits based on his tenure at Bell. Spaccia is asking for a determination between $21,000 and $38,000, $252,000 and $456,000 annually, respectively.

 

If Spaccia prevails in her claim, it would cost the city an additional $1.670 million in unfunded liability. A hearing has been held with judgment due in February 2013, with an estimated cost of $10,000 to taxpayers.

 

Former Chief of Police Randy Adams has filed for indemnification and defense costs for the criminal cases against him, Adams is submitting legal bills to the city for payment in excess of $500,000. The city is fighting his actual employment saying his employment contract was never approved. No trial date has been set, estimated cost is $100,000.

 

Adams has also filed a lawsuit against the city and former interim Chief Administrative Officer Pedro Carrillo alleging breach of contract and defamation against Carillo. Adams is seeking unpaid wages, benefits, severance, attorney’s fees and punitive damages. No trial date has been set, Adams is seeking over $512,000; estimated cost is $250,000.

 

Like Rizzo and Spaccia, Adams has appealed the CalPERS determination of his retirement benefits based on his tenure at Bell. Adams is asking for $38,000 per month, $457,000 per year, If Adams prevailed in his claim, it would cost the city an additional $84,000 in unfunded liability, the hearing is set for Feb. 2013.

 

On June 29, 2012, as reported in the LA Times August 2012, former city prosecutor Eric Eggena filed a complaint against the city and city council alleging breach of his employment contract and seeking unpaid benefits and wages, vacation, sick leave, attorney’s fees and punitive damages, he is seeking over $837,000. Aleshire estimated that cost at $75,000.

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