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Presenting America's Ten Greediest of 2013

By       Message Sam Pizzigati       (Page 1 of 6 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. You won't find any of them on our annual list of America's most avaricious. You will find wheelers and dealers and a candystore heiress.

Abstractions -- like inequality -- can only take us so far. To really understand the ills that ail us, we usually need to put some human faces upon them.

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A half-dozen years ago, we started compiling a year-end   list to identify those faces of avarice that can help tell inequality's story. We hope you'll find some useful insights from our ten choices below -- and maybe even some new incentive to help make our world a more equal place.

10/ Angela Spaccia: Pint-Sized Pilfering

We start this year's top ten with garden-variety greed, the sort that inevitably grows in the shadows of escalating grand fortunes. In that shade, people in positions of modest power and authority regularly -- and clumsily -- try to emulate the avaricious high and mighty they see all around them.

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In Bell, a small Los Angeles County working class community, that modest power and authority once belonged to Angela Spaccia. As Bell's assistant city manager for a seven-year span that ended in 2010, Spaccia helped stuff hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of the city's top officials, including herself. Spaccia in one year alone took in $564,000.

Prosecutors eventually caught up with Spaccia and her pals. Her boss, the Bell city manager, cut a plea deal in October to 69 corruption charges. He pulled in $1.18 million in his most lucrative year. Spaccia chose to go to trial instead, claiming she did nothing illegal.

"Everyone's greedy," her defense attorney argued in November. "There's no crime in taking too much money."

Jurors disagreed. Last week, they found Spaccia guilty on multiple counts of criminal behavior, including one misappropriation of public funds designed to pump $15.5 million in pension checks to Spaccia and her boss.

9/ Dylan Lauren: Sweet Squeezer

They don't come more suave and sophisticated than Dylan Lauren, the only child of billionaire designer Ralph Lauren. Or more ambitious either.

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Not for Dylan the empty heiress life. Over a decade ago, she opened up her own business, a luxury candy emporium on Manhattan's Upper East Side where moldings atop display cabinets mimic dripping chocolate and a cocktail bar offers Gummy Bear martinis.

"Dylan's Candy Bar" would go on to become wildly successful, expanding into Miami Beach, Los Angeles, and the Hamptons, all the prime watering holes for America's super rich.

Things today could hardly be peachier for the young Lauren. She has by her side a totally smitten hedge fund manager husband. Maybe even better, the 39-year-old has realized the life's dream she's had ever since she first saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the ripe old age of six.

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Sam Pizzigati is an  Associate Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

Editor,  Too Much ,  an online weekly on excess and inequality

Author, The Rich Don't Always (more...)

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