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Angela Spaccia to testify in Bell corruption trial, attorney says

Angela Spaccia to testify in Bell corruption trial, attorney says
Angela Spaccia in court earlier this month. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The former assistant city manager of Bell will take the witness stand in her own defense in a sweeping municipal corruption case expected to open later this week.

Jury selection continued Monday in the government's case against Angela Spaccia, who is facing 13 corruption-related felony counts.

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"I don't think I could keep her off the stand if I wanted to," attorney Harland Braun told prospective jurors Monday.

The trial is set to begin Wednesday. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said she would allow cameras in the courtroom only during opening statements, closing arguments and when the verdict is read.

Braun told Kennedy that the district attorney had turned down his offer to let prosecutors interview Spaccia without restrictions.

But Dep. Dist. Atty. Sean Hassett said that Spaccia invoked her 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when prosecutors tried to question her. "That's why we didn't talk to her," he said.

Fellow prosecutor Max Huntsman said he never received such an offer. Braun, he told the judge, is "not going to let that happen. It's craziness."

Meanwhile, prosecutors said they planned to call as a witness Edward Lee, who served for many years as Bell’s city attorney. Lee, who is not charged in the Bell money scandal, became something of a mystery man during the corruption trial earlier this year of six former Bell City Council members who blamed him for not telling them that their six-figure salaries may have been illegal. Lee did not testify in the trial.

Five of the former council members were convicted. They are expected to be retried next year on charges that the jury deadlocked on. A sixth former councilman was acquitted.

Two other lawyers who worked for Bell are also expected to testify in Spaccia's case.

Robert Rizzo, who was Bell's city administer for 17 years and who was supposed to be tried along with Spaccia, pleaded no contest to 69 corruption counts this month. The judge said Rizzo would be sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison.

Rizzo's attorney said his client stands ready to testify against Spaccia.

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