Bell chief’s pen­sion deal in­ves­ti­gated

Randy Adams’ lawyer says the for­mer top cop wasn’t wrong to take dis­abled sta­tus.

Los Angeles Times - - Late Extra - Paul Pringle

Los An­ge­les County pros­e­cu­tors are in­ves­ti­gat­ing for­mer Bell Po­lice Chief Randy Adams for hav­ing him­self de­clared dis­abled for the job the day he was hired, an ar­range­ment that could pay him mil­lions in tax-free pen­sion money, Dist. Atty. Steve Coo­ley said Thurs­day.

Coo­ley said he would not take part in any de­ci­sion by his pros­e­cu­tors on whether to file charges against Adams be­cause they have had a pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship for sev­eral years. The district at­tor­ney said they were not friends, how­ever, and there was no need for his of­fice to turn the mat­ter over to an­other agency to avoid a con­flict of in­ter­est.

“I’ve never been to his home,” said Coo­ley, whose of­fice has charged eight other for­mer and cur­rent Bell of­fi­cials in a broad cor­rup­tion case. “We do not so­cial­ize. It’s a pro­fes­sional ac­quain­tance­ship.”

The Times re­ported Thurs­day that Adams struck a deal with for­mer Bell City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Robert Rizzo that guar­an­teed the in­com­ing chief a dis­abil­ity re­tire­ment be­cause of in­juries he sus­tained years ear­lier. Un­der such a re­tire­ment, he would not have to pay taxes on half his pen­sion in­come.

Adams’ at­tor­ney, Mark Pa­chow­icz, said his client had­done noth­ing wrong and the pen­sion agree­ment was merely an ef­fort to avoid lit­i­ga­tion with Bell if the city ob­jected to a dis­abil­ity re­tire­ment some­time in the fu­ture.

“I don’t think he should be un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Pa­chow­icz said.

Adams, 59, en­tered into the pact with Rizzo even though he had filed for a less lu­cra­tive non-dis­abil­ity re­tire­ment as he pre­pared to leave his job as Glen­dale po­lice chief. That ap­pli­ca­tion was ap­proved, but he re­scinded it the same month his ser­vice of­fi­cially ended in Glen­dale and he went to work for Bell in 2009, Glen­dale and state pen­sion of­fi­cials say.

Glen­dale City Man­ager Jim Star­bird said that Adams, who worked in the city for six years, was not dis­abled and had never in­di­cated to him that he should be en­ti­tled to a med­i­cal re­tire­ment.

Dis­abil­ity pen­sions are de­signed for em­ploy­ees who must give up a job be­cause of a work-re­lated in­jury, and the tax break is in­tended to com­pen­sate them for lost earn­ings, said rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Cal­i­for­nia Pub­lic Em­ploy­ees’ Re­tire­ment Sys­tem.

Along with Rizzo and As­sis­tant City Ad­min­is­tra­tor An­gela Spac­cia, Adams re­signed from Bell af­ter The Times dis­closed their high salaries in July. Adams made $457,000 an­nu­ally, dou­ble his pay at the much larger Glen­dale de­part-

ment, and stands to col­lect a pen­sion of more than $400,000 a year.

Un­like Rizzo and Spac­cia, he was not charged Tues­day in the cor­rup­tion case. Pros­e­cu­tors said at the time that Adams’ large salary alone was not ev­i­dence of a crime.

Coo­ley said Thurs­day that his in­ves­ti­ga­tors had al­ready re­viewed some in­for­ma­tion about the pen­sion agree­ment, but they could broaden their in­quiry.

“What was brought out to­day in The Times was cer­tainly brought to the at­ten­tion of the attorneys work­ing the Bell case,” he said. “They’re go­ing to go where the ev­i­dence leads them.”

The one-page pen­sion agree­ment was ex­e­cuted the same day as Adams’ em­ploy­ment con­tract, May 29, 2009.

It says that Adams had pre­vi­ous knee and back surg­eries as well as a neck in­jury, and all were job-re­lated.

As a re­sult, the doc­u­ment

‘They’re go­ing to go where the ev­i­dence leads them.’ Dist. Atty. Steve Coo­ley, on in­ves­ti­ga­tors in

the Bell in­quiry

says, he has “lim­i­ta­tions to full-time law en­force­ment duty and is dis­abled from heavy lift­ing” and “ex­pe­ri­ences flare-ups of de­bil­i­tat­ing back pain and numb­ness in his left foot.”

In 2008, Adams had ap­plied to be­come Orange County sher­iff but was not se­lected for the post. Pa­chow­icz said he did not know if Adams had told Orange County of­fi­cials that he suf­fered from a dis­abil­ity.

In a civil law­suit filed last week, the state at­tor­ney gen­eral ac­cused Rizzo, Adams and oth­ers of be­ing part of a scheme to loot Bell’s trea­sury.

The suit cited Rizzo’s prom­ise to sup­port a dis­abil­ity re­tire­ment for Adams and to pro­vide him and his de­pen­dents life­time health­care ben­e­fits, with no vest­ing pe­riod. It did not specif­i­cally chal­lenge his claimed dis­abil­ity.

Pa­chow­icz said Adams had back surgery in 2003 and re­turned to work in Glen­dale two weeks later. Star­bird said Adams never told him that he sub­se­quently was un­able to per­form full-time du­ties. He said a back-re­lated work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion claim that Adams set­tled with Glen­dale and two other cities where he had served as chief, Ven­tura and Simi Val­ley, did not qual­ify him for a dis­abil­ity pen­sion.

CHIEF:

Dis­abil­ity sta­tus would make half of for­mer Chief Randy Adams’ pen­sion in­come tax-free.

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