LOS ANGELES -- LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former assistant city manager of the corruption-riddled city of Bell used a secret formula concocted by her and her one-time boss to take millions of dollars from the city's coffers — a scheme that wasn't discovered until they were forced to publicly disclose their earnings, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Showing a series of emails, contracts and other documents, Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman told a jury in his opening statements that Angel Spaccia, 55, boosted her own salary and gave herself additional benefits for at least several years unbeknownst to the public.

By the time Spaccia and her former boss, ex-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, were arrested three years ago, Huntsman said, they had been making upward of $560,000 and nearly $1.2 million, respectively, with their annual salaries, accrued sick and vacation days and loans.

"That was the end of the gravy train," Huntsman said.

Spaccia is on trial on 13 counts, including misappropriation of funds. If convicted, she faces up to 16 years in state prison.

Rizzo, who has been depicted as the mastermind of the brazen municipal corruption scandal that drove the modest Los Angeles suburb to the brink of bankruptcy, recently pleaded no contest to 69 counts of fraud, conflict of interest and other charges. In agreeing to testify against Spaccia and other former city officials, he will be sentenced to no more than 10 to 12 years in prison instead of a possible maximum of 70 years.

Huntsman said Spaccia's involvement in the corruption scheme was documented in her own words.

In a 2009 email exchange with incoming Police Chief Randy Adams, Spaccia promised him they will enrich themselves as long as they don't get too greedy.

"I am looking forward to seeing you and taking all of Bell's money," Adams wrote Spaccia.

"We will all get fat together," Spaccia responded. "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. So as long as we're not hogs all is well."

Spaccia also tells Adams in another email: "We have crafted our agreements carefully so we do not draw attention to our pay."

Adams was never charged in the case. However, five former Bell council members were convicted last March of fraud charges after jurors found the one-time city officials paid themselves six-figure salaries for sitting on boards and commissions that did no work.

One council member was acquitted, and some charges that jurors couldn't decide on remain to be retried.

Spaccia's attorney, Harland Braun, said his client thought her annual salary was legitimate because Rizzo told her it was.

Braun said Wednesday that Spaccia's arrest three years ago was politically motivated as then-Attorney General Jerry Brown and ex-Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley seized upon the scandal months before an election. Brown is now California's governor; Cooley lost a bid to become the state's attorney general to Kamala Harris.

Braun cited a transcript where one of the case investigators tells a former co-worker of Spaccia's that the probe may have been fast-tracked because of the upcoming election.

"A trial should be about the truth, not about politics," Braun said.

Bell is home to some 35,000 residents, many of whom live below the federal poverty line. After the scandal broke, they held a recall election and threw out all of the city council members. By then, Rizzo and Spaccia had been fired.

The salaries came to light in 2010 after Rizzo released them to the Los Angeles Times. He had stalled the newspaper's reporters for weeks until they threatened to have their attorneys demand the documents under California public records law. The Times won a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the scandal.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Defendants In Bell Corruption Trial

    Five former elected officials from Bell, Calif. were convicted of multiple accounts of the misappropriation of public funds. Former elected officials (from left to right): Luis Artiga, Teresa Jacobo, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez and Victor Bello. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Francine Orr, Pool,File)

  • Oscar Hernandez, Victor Bello: GUILTY

    Former mayor Oscar Hernandez and former city official Victor Bello were both fond guilty of misappropriation of public funds. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan, Pool)

  • Teresa Jacobo: GUILTY

    Former Bell, Calif. vice mayor Teresa Jacobo was found guilty of the misappropriation of public funds. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan, Pool)

  • George Mirabal: GUILTY

    Former Bell, Calif. council member George Mirabal was found guilty of the misappropriation of public funds. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan, Pool)

  • George Cole: GUILTY

    Defendant George Cole was found guilty of the misappropriation of public funds. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan, Pool)

  • Luis Artiga: NOT GUILTY

    Former Bell council member Luis Artiga, who was charged with misappropriation of public funds, was found not guilty. (IRFAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Edward Miller

    Deputy district attorney Edward Miller gives his opening statement in a massive city corruption trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan, Pool)

  • Kathleen Kennedy

    Judge Kathleen Kennedy presides over closing statements in a massive city corruption trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • Shepard Kopp

    Attorney Shepard Kopp defends former Bell, Calif., vice mayor Teresa Jacobo during closing arguments in a massive city corruption trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • Opening Statements

    Judge Kathleen Kennedy, right center, presides over opening statements in a massive city corruption trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan, Pool)

  • Robert Rizzo

    FILE - This undated file image provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department shows Robert Rizzo, former city manager of the city of Bell, Calif. Jury selection begins Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the trial of former officials of the scandal ridden city of Bell, including Rizzo, in a massive corruption case that nearly bankrupted the working-class Los Angeles suburb. (AP Photo/Los Angeles County Sheriff, File)

  • Angela Spaccia

    FILE - This Oct. 21, 2010 file photo shows former Bell, Calif., assistant city manager Angela Spaccia appearing in court for arraignment on corruption charges, in Los Angeles Superior Court. Jury selection begins Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the trial of former officials of the scandal ridden city of Bell, in a massive corruption case that nearly bankrupted the working-class Los Angeles suburb. (AP Photo/Al Seib, Pool, File)

  • Jesus Casas

    FILE - This Sept. 21, 2010 file photo shows Jesus Casas, a member of the Bell Association to Stop The Abuse, or BASTA, which also means "enough" in Spanish, joining other residents of the city of Bell, Calif., celebrating the arrest of current and former city officials on corruption charges, outside City Hall. an official of the city of Bell, Calif. Jury selection begins Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the trial of former officials of the scandal ridden city of Bell in a massive corruption case that nearly bankrupted the working-class Los Angeles suburb. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)