Local Government and Attorneys and County Government and Carl Brizzi and Government & Economic Development and Government and Law

Brizzi ordered dismissal in trespassing case

April 16, 2010

Another case has surfaced in which Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi personally weighed in on behalf of defense attorney Paul Page, Brizzi’s friend and business partner.

In late 2008, Brizzi ordered the dismissal of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct charges in a case handled by deputy prosecutor Tom Walz. Deputy prosecutors working minor misdemeanor cases rarely have cause for interaction with Brizzi.

After receiving an e-mail from Brizzi saying he wanted the case dismissed, Walz approached his supervisor, Dirk Cushing, who contacted Chief Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser.

“It struck me as odd because at the time we had cooperation of the victim,” Cushing told IBJ. “I told [Wyser] we got this e-mail from Carl Brizzi directing us to dismiss the case. We had a discussion about the case, and we concluded with: ‘Boss says dismiss it, then you probably need to dismiss it.’”

Cushing could not find the original e-mail, but he remembered it saying “something to the effect that the victim had counsel and we needed to dismiss it.”

The case involved a woman who refused to leave her ex-boyfriend’s condo, allegedly vandalized a car she suspected of belonging to his new girlfriend, and threw a fit when police arrived, records show. IBJ is not reporting the names of the parties involved since the misdemeanor charges were dropped.

Brizzi said in e-mails to IBJ that the “alleged male victim retained a lawyer and didn't want to pursue prosecution.” Asked why he personally intervened in such a minor case, he said the victim had taken the unusual step of hiring an attorney, Thomas Farlow of Frost Brown Todd, who told Brizzi shortly before the victim's scheduled deposition that his client wanted the case dismissed.

Farlow said he called Page and said his client wanted to move on and not pursue the charges. Farlow later received a call from Brizzi asking him whether what he heard from Page was accurate.

Farlow said he didn't question Brizzi's involvement in the matter at the time, but agreed it was unusual for an elected prosecutor to be involved.

The case was unusual enough for Cushing to ask Walz to include a notation—“Per David Wyser”—next to his signature on the order of dismissal. He said it actually should have said “Per Carl Brizzi.”

It was only the second time Cushing has interacted with Brizzi on a case during his four-year tenure. His involvement seemed odd particularly because the case probably would have been dismissed even without Brizzi’s intervention.

The suspect’s lawyer was Page, who had arranged months earlier for Brizzi to own 50 percent of an Elkhart office building worth $900,000 without investing any cash or co-signing a loan.

Brizzi, a Republican in his second four-year term, has resisted calls from Marion County Republican Party Chairman Tom John and Mark Massa, the Republican candidate for prosecutor, to step down in the wake of a five-month-long IBJ investigation into Brizzi’s business dealings while in office.

IBJ on April 3 exclusively reported on Brizzi’s personal intervention in a major drug case to offer a reduced sentence to a Page client. Brizzi demanded a plea deal for accused drug dealer Joseph Mobareki that would be acceptable to Page over objections from both law-enforcement officers and his own deputy prosecutors. Brizzi also directed his staff to return $10,000 in seized cash.

Cushing, the deputy prosecutor in the trespassing case, said he has enjoyed working for Brizzi.

“Let’s just say I support him,” Cushing said. “One incident was a little unusual. Other than that I like working for Carl.”

Neither Page nor Walz returned phone messages.

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