Ousted Bell Police Chief Sues for Severance Pay

Friday, August 03, 2012
Randy Adams

Randy Adams made more money as chief of the 46-member Bell police force than the top cops in the city and county of Los Angeles. But when eight top officials in Bell were arrested in 2010 and charged with felonies in a case described by one prosecutor as “corruption on steroids,” he wasn’t one of them.

Adams resigned and gave up his $457,000-a-year salary, although his total annual compensation package as chief was $770,046 when you figured in all the bells and whistles. He was on track to receive a $400,000-a-year pension—third highest in the state—however, that was slashed to just over $268,000 by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).

But the city refused to pay Adams severance when he left and he has now sued them for that compensation. The city said it plans to counter sue. It is the second time the 37-year law enforcement veteran, who was originally hired in July 2009, has sued the city. Early in the corruption investigation, Adams was named in a lawsuit brought by the state attorney general. Adams is suing to recover legal fees he incurred in his defense.

Although Adams has not been charged in the Bell scandal, he has been a central character in the unfolding drama. Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo and his deputy, Angela Spaccia, were implicated in a scheme to jack up Adams’ salary by spreading it out across two contracts. Subsequent grand jury testimony indicated the contracts had been improperly backdated and never approved by the city council.

Adams’ agreement with Rizzo stipulated that the chief was suffering from multiple medical injuries sustained during his police career and that the city would support his claim for an enhanced disability pension when he retired. Disability pensions get a 50% break on taxes.

In December 2011, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy wondered aloud in court why she was presiding over the Bell corruption case and Adams wasn’t one of those charged. “I don't know why he is not a defendant in this case,” Kennedy said. “It does seem rather curious to me.”

The district attorney’s office said it declined to press charges because Adams’ case was different than the others. He was not a Bell employee when he signed his contract and wasn’t actually the person doling out money. 

Six Bell councilmembers await trial in January over charges they were paid excessive amounts of money to briefly attend commissions that rarely, if ever, met. Rizzo and Spaccia face charges of misappropriation of funds, conflict of interest and falsifying records.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Ousted Bell Police Chief Sues for Severance Pay (by Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times)

Judge Questions Why Bell's Former Police Chief Isn't Facing Corruption Charges (by Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times)

Bell Ex-Police Chief's Pension Cut by More Than $100,000 a Year (by Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times)

Ex-City Official’s $650,000-a-Year Pension Slashed Again (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

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