A Democrat is set to take over as Marion County prosecutor after 16 years of GOP dominance, following an election in which the outgoing Republican prosecutor factored large even though he was not on the ballot.
Two-term Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi drew attention for a series of questionable business deals with a local defense attorney and for his friendship and business ties to financier Tim Durham, who is under federal criminal investigation.
The FBI also was looking into deals involving Brizzi—including a state lease deal in Elkhart and an Indianapolis drug case—following an IBJ investigation that raised questions about his business dealings while in office and whether those deals influenced his actions as prosecutor.
Local defense attorney Paul Page in 2008 arranged for Brizzi to own 50 percent of an office building in Elkhart leased by the Department of Child Services without Brizzi’s putting up cash or credit. A year later, Brizzi offered a lenient plea deal and returned $10,000 in seized cash to accused drug dealer Joseph Mobareki, a Page client.
Law enforcement officials saw Brizzi’s intervention in the Mobareki case as troubling considering his no-cost real estate deal with Page in Elkhart.
During the election, both the victorious Democrat Terry Curry and Republican challenger Mark Massa criticized Brizzi’s behavior in office.
Curry put it this way: “There’s no doubt whatsoever that the No. 1 challenge for the next prosecutor is … to restore trust and confidence in the office.”
Massa, a former general counsel for Gov. Mitch Daniels and deputy prosecutor in Marion County, began his campaign by calling on Brizzi to resign. In April, Massa announced a series of ethics reforms he hoped to enact if elected, and said the man he hoped to replace should resign before his second four-year term ended Dec. 31.
Massa cited a series of “disturbing published reports” detailing Brizzi’s business dealings while in office, including the investment with Page.
“I believe the prosecuting attorney should inspire public confidence, not public cynicism,” Massa said. “I will work simply for the paycheck from the people every two weeks, and I’ll work hard to earn it.”
Brizzi resisted calls from former supporters to resign, and had a personal interest in sticking around: By finishing his second term, he will be eligible for a public pension.
With eight years of service, he would be entitled to earn 24 percent of his highest annual salary of $125,000, or about $30,000 per year once he reaches retirement age, by IBJ’s calculation.•