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Bales partner pleads guilty in deal with prosecutors

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SOUTH BEND — Indianapolis attorney and developer Paul J. Page has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in an investigation that targets former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Page on Friday pleaded guilty to a felony wire fraud charge in U.S. District Court in South Bend, agreeing to testify if called against co-defendants John M. Bales, a real estate broker, and Bales partner William E. Spencer in the Northern District case.

Page separately agreed to cooperate with a Southern District investigation in a move that could forestall additional charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jesse M. Barrett noted during the morning hearing.

Page, 47, could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charge, but he opted to take his chances on leniency in exchange for cooperation as authorities investigate Brizzi's side dealings during his two-term tenure as prosecutor.

A 14-count indictment in South Bend alleges Page, Bales and Spencer defrauded the state and a bank over their purchase of a building in Elkhart and a subsequent lease deal with the state's Department of Child Services. The deal was first revealed as part of an IBJ investigation.

A trial in that case is scheduled to begin Jan. 28 and last up to two weeks.

The government agreed to drop the 13 other charges Page faced, assuming he cooperates as promised. Page also agreed to forfeit the office building in Elkhart he has said he co-owned with Brizzi. Page's sentencing is scheduled for April 12.

Page declined to comment as he left the courtroom Friday to meet with a probation officer.

His attorney, Robert W. Hammerle, said Page was a victim of a scheme orchestrated by Bales. He pointed to the fact that Bales named the company that wound up owning the Elkhart building L&BAB LLC, an acronym for "lazy and broke-ass bitch", an apparent reference to Page and Brizzi. 

The government has not filed charges against Brizzi.

Asked whether the investigation in the Southern District has Brizzi as its target, Hammerle said: "Use your own judgement. Beyond that, I'd refer you to the U.S. Attorney's Office."

Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis, said he could not "confirm or deny any ongoing investigation."

Barrett declined to comment or provide a copy of the cooperation agreement involving Page, which was was not filed in court.

During the hearing, Barrett described the probe as a "parallel investigation in the Southern District into conduct in which Mr. Page was involved."

Brizzi has drawn attention from the FBI and federal prosecutors because of a series of questionable business deals with Page and for his friendship and business ties to financier Tim Durham, who was sentenced in December to a 50-year prison term for orchestrating a $250 million Ponzi scheme.

The FBI also was looking into deals involving Brizzi, including the state lease deal in Elkhart and an Indianapolis drug case.

Page arranged for Brizzi to own 50 percent of the office building in Elkhart without Brizzi’s putting up cash or credit, as a finder's fee of sorts. 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.

Page has not been accused of wrongdoing in the Mobareki matter.

At the hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. asked Page several questions about the plea agreement to ensure the terms were clear. Page acknowledged he could be called to testify in the case against Bales and Spencer, and agreed to stipulations that could extend his potential prison sentence including the fact the crime required "sophisticated means" and "special skills."

Page admitted in court and in the plea agreement (read it here) he concealed from the bank that he received funds from Bales to buy the Elkhart building in 2008.

The two had agreed to split the proceeds of the investment, despite the fact Bales' firm, Venture Cos., represented the state in lease deals for state agencies. The firm's contract with the state explicitly banned Venture and its partners and employees from “any ownership interest” or any “attempt to acquire” properties to be leased by the state.

"I'm guilty of these charges," Page told the judge.

Hammerle said the lender has not lost money on the deal since Page continued making payments.

"As long as I've done this, the toughest cases, right or wrong, are when you like your clients," Hammerle said. "I like Mr. Page."

Jason Barclay, an attorney for Bales, said his client has not entertained or accepted a deal with federal prosecutors.

"We're looking forward to proving his innocence on January 28," he said.

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  • Not So Fast
    I don't think enough credit is given to Bales for being the manipulator. Going to remain vague, but he is very good at scheming. Brizzi didn't have the experience to put together that Elkhart deal. Go back to the "L" referenced below - I think this is the right track. Look at how Bales got his start. Ultimately there is more than real estate involved.
  • Next up -- Carl Brizzi
    To me, the question is "Does John Bales get a plea deal that includes rolling over on Carl Brizzi" If John Bales shares with the authorities what he knows about Carl Brizzi, Mr. Brizzi will be going to jail for a pretty good while. Me thinks Carl Brizzi has figured out he is headed to jail for crimes he knowingly committed.
  • credit
    Don't forget to giive credit to Russ Mcquaid as well. He is a great investigative journalist and the first one start asking questions about Brizzi. And in turn, Brizzi began to try to bully him just like Tim durham did to Greg Andrews at the IBJ. Brizzi immediately went on the defensive on his radio show quacking about his innocence and that "He wouldn't be taking any more interviews from Russ Mcquaid". He would only take interviews from busch league reporters who he made sure would only ask him vague easy questions for the public to see. The clock has been ticking every since Durham went under the microscope. Page and Bales are just the flukies that the FBI are using to get to Carl and it was so obvious from the beginning. Yet many people assumed that Brizzi wouldn't get hit with an indictment because "so much time has gone by, he's teflon, etc." Page will be sentenced in April so I would have to think Brizzi will be getting indicted very soon.
  • He Must Be High
    I bet Carl's heart is beating like crazy after finding out what his partner has done with the Feds.
  • Too much adrenaline, is what Brizzi told Debby Knox
    Too much adrenaline. Dontcha love that wishtv interview with him taken at Harry and Izzy's--can anyone reply with where Brizzi got the money for that investment? Cuz his divorce records made him look like a pauper... http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/local/marion_county/brizzi-gives-glimpse-into-broken-heart-syndrome ........too much adrenaline..................too much adrenaline...........why would he even give a stupid interview like that to Debby Knox.....too much adrenaline... Kind of like what happens when a guilty person sits down for a lie detector test. Isn't that what lie detector tests measure? Brizzi gives glimpse into broken heart syndrome Updated: Thursday, 16 Feb 2012, 11:06 PM EST Published : Thursday, 16 Feb 2012, 10:47 PM EST Debby Knox INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi found himself in St. Vincent Hospital this past weekend with some of the classic symptoms of a heart attack. But it turns out he has broken heart syndrome. The 43-year-old attorney and recent defender of Charlie White, Indiana's now-former secretary of state who was found guilty of six counts of voter fraud, admitted to 24-Hour News 8 that he had been experiencing shortness of breath during the trial and in fact for several weeks. Saturday at a party where several doctors were in attendance, he had his blood pressure and pulse checked, and the doctors advised him to go to the hospital. After several tests, including an EKG and angiogram, doctors diagnosed his problem as too much adrenaline. "They came out, they said, ‘It's the craziest thing, there is no blockage whatsoever.’ And what was causing it was too much adrenaline," Broken heart syndrome is known formally as takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It's discovered when there is a sudden weakening of the heart muscle. For Brizzi, the muscle was in his left ventricle. He said doctors told him the rest of his heart had to work harder and that contributed to his symptoms. Brizzi was released from the hospital Valentine's Day. He'll be checking back with his physician in two weeks, and for now is taking beta blockers. He's also been advised to look into meditation or yoga to bring his adrenaline levels in check. He said he'll continue working and is looking forward to representing a client in the State Fair stage collapse. He said he doesn't attribute his condition to representing White in that highly charged trial. He also said he didn't speak to White while he was in the hospital.
    • Low Hanging Fruit
      You are very correct in your conclusion. What a pity that the Feds will likely not be able to cut down the entire tree of corruption and send out a loud and clear message.
    • Prison facilities
      This is where Tim Durham, Carl's former BFF is being detained--just in case anyone wants to see what Carl's potential living conditions will look like. Notice inmate programs "coming soon." http://www.gcdetention.com/index.asp
    • Re
      You are right, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Interesting to see Mitch appoint Mark Massa to the highest court there is, the Indiana Supreme Court. Unfortunately Bales, Page and Carl will be the end of it because how do you prosecute the order and command? Carl is low hanging fruit.
      • Just The Tip of the Iceberg
        It appears that Paul Page's announced squeal deal with the Feds is just the tip of the iceberg. If it goes very deep and far, I will be surprised.
        • Notice South Bend issued the indictment?
          Carl, ain't much fun when you aren't in control and throwing people under the bus. Like Charlie White, who deserved competent counsel.
        • re
          Agreed big time. L is for either Larry or Leslie. Everyone knows which attorney registered himself as registrar in a certain Florida transaction and his wife is named Leslie. Short little shi* who is, like all these losers, a wannabe. Seth at the judicial "investigative board" (cough) annointed a term for Tim Durham, and that term was "king of the Dorks." And that is exactly what all these losers in this gang are--dorks who suddenly had money and power and wanted to pay back all those childhood bullies. Oops.
        • money
          Attorney Robert Hammerle says he likes Paul Paige. Of course, why would you not like the guy when he probably paid attorney hammerle in excess of $200,000.00 legal fees for the case? The term Lazy ass broke bitch was probably coined by Paul Paige's attorney to make him look like a victim. These are the types of crooked lawyers that the courts pander to. That certainly never would have been the term used by the partners in their deals. No child will believe in what Hammerle has said.
          • Page Honest?
            Paul Page an honest man? The same man who has been accused of fixing cases for a number of years. As a former victim of his "honesty" I can assure you the only reason he has started talking is because he knows there are many other things he is running from. I am glad Paul and potentially Brizzi have finally lost their power and control. I hope they both get every last thing they deserve.
          • Re
            I personally think the L stood for "Leslie" who is the wife of a certain attorney that is buddies with these guys but it's a clever ruse to come up with this. Of course Page know he can only squeal on so many people. If Carl were smart he would be antying up the goods on Mitch, on that loser buddy (Reno R) of his prison buddies and be doing a lot of praying that Page's reference to a female dog, as they were referred, is not going to be a prison tattoo on his shiny forehead.
          • Devil deals
            When you make your deals with the devil, you're going to get burned. While Page may appear to be a nice guy, his choice of pals and business partners gives the lie to that appearance. Brizzi, your day is coming soon.
          • I agree
            I have known Paul Page for several years and have always thought him to be an honest guy. Bales is one of those guys your mom told you not to hang around with in HS becasue he would get you in trouble. Mom was right.
          • Sad
            Thats too bad. I went to law school with Paul. He always seemed like a nice guy. Mortgage fraud is pretty common, and generally goes unprosecuted unless the loan defaults. Someone with an agenda decided to make an example of Paul.
          • case
            Case you might be interested in

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