A Superior Court judge on Wednesday rejected former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo’s request that his corruption trial be moved out of Los Angeles County.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy said she would consider the change of motion request again if the court has trouble finding jurors without “preconceived notions they can’t set aside.”
Rizzo did not appear in court because “his knee exploded and he had emergency surgery,” said James Spertus, Rizzo’s attorney.
Spertus had proposed that the trial be moved to Santa Clara County.
“The reasonable likelihood is that Mr. Rizzo will not receive a fair trial in L.A. County,” he said.
In a previous hearing, Spertus said: “The Los Angeles Times has widely reported these issues, and based on that publicity I think the people who read the L.A. Times have preconceived notions of what happened in the city of Bell.”
Rizzo is accused of looting Bell’s treasury by paying extraordinary salaries, lending out city money and padding his own paycheck and retirement fund.
He and Angela Spaccia, the former Bell assistant city manager, are scheduled to go on trial on corruption charges in early October. Five former Bell council members were convicted on some charges earlier this year, though jurors in their case deadlocked on other counts. The district attorney has refiled those charges.
Harland Braun, Spaccia’s attorney, told the judge Wednesday that he thought Rizzo was entitled to a change of venue. He said Spaccia did not join the motion because it would be a financial burden for her if the trial was moved.