Bell corruption trial to begin; Angela Spaccia says she's innocent

BELL, Calif.

"I'm scared to death because the D.A. wants me to spend the rest of my life in jail. They're looking at 39 years for crimes I did not commit," said Spaccia, who fought back tears as she spoke to reporters Friday.

Rizzo on Thursday agreed to a surprise plea deal where he will not face trial and instead be sentenced 10 to 12 years in prison. Spaccia says Rizzo is now accusing her of masterminding the entire plot.

"If I were the mastermind, do you think I would have taken time to take care of my dying grandfather? Would I have taken nine months to take care of my son?" said Spaccia.

In court Friday, Spaccia's attorney, Harland Braun, complained to Judge Kathleen Kennedy that she got involved in the case improperly by helping broker Rizzo's plea deal.

"In my opinion, she should not have participated in plea bargaining. She should have said, 'Mr. Rizzo, you plead guilty to everything and I will decide what your sentence is going to be,'" said Braun.

Rizzo was charged with stealing more than $5 million from the city of Bell. Several former members of the Bell City Council came to court Friday. Former council member Luis Artiga, who was acquitted, says Rizzo lied to everybody.

"We were puppets, perhaps, but we were conspiracy with him. He used us," said Artiga.

Spaccia faces charges of misappropriating public funds and falsifying documents, but says she will not take a plea deal and is ready to fight.

"When you're innocent, you don't take a plea. I feel like I'm fighting not just for myself, but for the rest of the council members," said Spaccia.

The case against Spaccia now moves forward. The trial begins Monday with jury selection.

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