A man convicted of hiring gang members to kill his wife for a $1 million life insurance policy was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison Friday.
Nuzzio Begaren, 53, was arrested more than two years ago in connection with the 1998 slaying of wife Elizabeth Begaren, who worked at a prison in Lancaster at the time.
The Begaren’s were driving on an offramp of the 91 Freeway in Anaheim when Elizabeth was shot and killed. Nuzzio told police that that he and his wife had been chased by four gang members and that she got out of the car to save her family.
Investigators learned more than a decade later that Nuzzio Begaren had hired the gang members to make it look like a random attack, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Three days after getting married in 1997, Nuzzio Begaren took out a $1 million life insurance policy on his new wife. Nuzzio Begaren hired Los Angeles gang mebers to kill Elizabeth Begaren.
Nuzzio placed $5,000 in his wife’s wallet before the attack as payment on Jan. 17, 1998, officials said. The gang members followed the family from a Burbank mall before running Begaren’s vehicle off the road.
When Nuzzio Begaren got out of the vehicle under the pretense of protecting his 10-year-old daughter, one of the gang members -- Guillermo Espinoza, 38 -- allegedly shot Elizabeth Begaren once in the head and chest.
The case went cold before investigators reopened the file and developed new evidence that led to Nuzzio Degaren’s arrest in 2012.