Co-defendant's lawyer complains about ex-Bell official's no-contest plea in corruption case

An attorney in the Bell, Calif., municipal corruption case has complained bitterly in court about a judge's decision to allow the chief defendant to plead no contest in an unannounced hearing.

Attorney Harland Braun told Judge Kathleen Kennedy on Friday that she improperly injected herself into the case by brokering a plea deal with former city manager Robert Rizzo.

The judge said there were no negotiations before Rizzo walked into court and entered his plea to all 69 counts on Thursday. Rizzo was charged with stealing more than $5 million from the blue-collar Los Angeles suburb.

Braun represents Rizzo's former top assistant, Angela Spaccia, whose trial begins with jury selection next week.

The judge refused to recuse herself from the case.