A Wells Fargo financial planner who helped craft the City of Bell’s retirement programs has testified about setting up a particularly lucrative benefit for former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia.

Alan Pennington, who warned in emails in 2003 and 2004 the plan’s benefits might not pass scrutiny by legal authorities, has told jurors Spaccia contacted him again in 2010 when the salary scandal became public – and said she needed to retire right away to hold on to her money.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman has told jurors had the plan remained undetected, it could have paid Spaccia and former city manager Robert Rizzo more than $15-million.

On cross examination, Spaccia’s defense lawyer Harland Braun pointed out the retirement plan was not specifically against the law.

“So the bottom line, in non technical terms, there’s nothing wrong with these plans, nothing illegal, other than the criticism that the amounts of money they were making was excessive,” asked Braun?

“That appears to be the case, yes,” said Pennington.

Spaccia faces a conflict of interest criminal charge for crafting her own retirement benefits plus one dozen additional counts for other alleged financial misdeeds.

-- Eric Leonard at Criminal Courts (@leonardfiles)