LOS ANGELES—The next step in the case of five former Bell city officials has been postponed to April 3 while four of them ponder whether to accept a prosecution plea offer.

The attorney for one defendant, former City Council member George Cole, said Friday he wants to accept the offer of a no contest plea with a maximum possible sentence of four years in prison. Four others said they want more time to think it over.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said it was not inconceivable that some could be sentenced to probation if they plead.

The mayor and four former councilmembers face a possible second trial on charges unresolved at their first corruption trial. They stand convicted of stealing city funds by collecting $100,000 salaries for no work on bogus boards they created. They were acquitted of some counts and the jury deadlocked on others.

Outside court, the attorneys for Cole, Oscar Hernandez, George Mirabal, Teresa Jacobo and Victor Bello said they had been offered a "package deal" in which all must accept the plea bargain or it will be withdrawn.

Attorney Ron Kaye said his client, Cole, wants the chance to explain to the judge all the good works he did while a councilman and wants the opportunity to get on with his life.

"George Cole is willing to accept the offer," said Kaye.

The judge said if a plea deal is finalized she will sentence the defendants individually and consider restitution to the city.