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Feds decline to press charges against former prosecutor Brizzi

Cory Schouten
October 22, 2013
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Federal prosecutors have declined to press criminal charges against former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi after a three-year investigation failed to yield sufficient direct evidence he accepted bribes while in office.

A joint public corruption task force led by the FBI and Indiana State Police in the last few weeks presented evidence it had gathered on Brizzi to federal prosecutors, who feared the mostly circumstantial case would not hold up in front of a jury or on appeal, sources said.

Ron Safer, an attorney representing Brizzi, told IBJ that the decision should not come as a surprise since his client "never did anything that approaches criminal activity.

"Carl is ecstatic and relieved," said Safer, managing partner at Schiff Hardin in Chicago. "This day should have come a long time ago, and we're gratified it came today."

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett confirmed for the first time in a statement Tuesday that Brizzi was indeed the target of a federal investigation, but that successful cases against two Brizzi associates had failed to yield anything beyond circumstantial evidence against the two-term prosecutor.

In a statement, Hogsett described Brizzi's actions—accepting $25,000 in campaign contributions from the father of a woman (Paula Willoughby) who was seeking a modification to a murder sentence and arranging a lenient plea bargain for a business partner's client (Joseph Mobareki)—as "unacceptible" and vowed to seek to have Brizzi's law license rescinded.

The U.S. Attorney's Office successfully charged Brizzi's former deputy prosecutor David Wyser for accepting a bribe (he pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing), and defense attorney and Brizzi friend Paul J. Page for wire fraud (he also pleaded guilty).

But the feds were unsuccessful at trial in a fraud case against Brizzi friend and business partner John Bales and two partners, who faced a handful of felony charges relating to a real estate deal in Elkhart. A jury found the men not guilty on all 13 counts.

The not-guilty verdict in the Bales case was likely a factor in the U.S. Attorney's Office decision not to pursue a case against Brizzi, though Hogsett did not reference the case in his prepared statement.

"As the United States Attorney, I must determine that there is sufficient admissible evidence to prove a federal crime beyond a reasonable doubt prior to authorizing criminal charges," Hogsett said.

"Because neither Paul Page, nor David Wyser, nor any other witness has provided direct evidence that Mr. Brizzi received a bribe in connection with the Willoughby matter or the Mobareki plea bargain, I have determined that there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Brizzi committed the crime of bribery and sustain a conviction."

Safer, Brizzi's attorney and a former federal prosecutor, described Hogsett's statement and in particular its criticism of Brizzi's conduct as unprecedented and inappropriate given the presumption of innocence.

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  • Idea
    Hey Joe: Here's an idea. How about if you pop down to Kentucky and offer Tim Durham a deal: Shave 20 years off his sentence in return for giving you all the dirt on your favorite cast of characters. After TD loses his appeal, he will be more than happy to cut a deal. In the meantime since we know you won't do that why don't you just do a forensic audit of ol Carlito--you know ,like where his water bill was drafted from, etc--and trace the money back. Like where did he get money as the poster below stated for hundreds of thousands of shares of Cellstar, and why would he allegedly gobble up a million shares of Red Rock Pictures, a boiler room so bad the state of Nevada revoked their registration. On what day was it that Carl popped up to Elkhart, in which car and using what for gas money? Those alleged phone calls Carl made to allegedly ruin the lives of a whistleblower and someone else that pissed off Carl's buddy--two people Carl to this day should have no knowledge of. C'mon, this is basic kindergarten stuff.
  • Brizzo
    Just because the feds release a statement saying brizzi won't be charged regarding these two cases doesn't mean that he won't be charged. It just means that he won't be charged relative to those two cases. Shocked that nobody has even mentioned this. Too bad they never went after the real man in control Jack Cottey!
  • Paul Page?
    So, everybody in this circle skates free except for Paul Page? Hard to believe.... I wonder how Page is feeling right about now....
  • Hogsett Won an Election
    Witchhunt, Hogsett defeated Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut in a bid to be elected (he was originally appointed) as Indiana Secretary of State.
  • Politics
    I love the fact that people are upset by this, that somehow Mr. Brizzi “escaped justice’, because the media had already decided the outcome of this case. First, the Feds have been at this FOR THREE YEARS. Does anyone with a shred of common sense think that they didn’t ask everyone even remotely close to this investigation “the right questions”. Give me a break. If any of these posters have any real evidence of Mr. Brizzi’s “crimes” they probably should have stepped forward at some point in the THREE YEAR investigation. Mr. Hogsett, had a lot riding on this, and the failure to prosecute a former political rival certainly isn’t going to look good in his for his upcoming Indianapolis mayoral run. And the little tantrum about turning him in to ethics board just goes to show that it’s all about politics, always was.
  • Inadequate investigation?
    Several years ago Carl Brizzi demanded that I be fired from my job as a court commissioner because I made a decision in a case contrary to what he wanted. Carl complained that I was not a "team player." That says a lot about Carl. A judicial officer is not supposed to play for any "team." I offer the foregoing as full disclosure. For a couple of years someone very reliable and very close to the investigation has been saying the the FBI and AUSA were not asking the right people the right questions. If that is correct, Carl lands on his feet again. I not only regret the apparently inadequate investigation but also the collateral damage to a great many people. Lives have been nearly destroyed, all for nothing.
  • Good try, Steve
    Hey Steve Sommer, I'm guessing you're sitting at the bar at Mo's waiting for Bales to pick up your tab for you. Anyone who sympathizes with Bales (or Brizzi, for that matter) has no concept of their actions b/c they were most likely on the inside with them. These guys have zero scruples and will get theirs in the end. Karma doesn't often miss.
  • re
    I don't recall Carl Brizzi having an Indiana real estate license with which to receive compensation for "finders fees" on real estate deals within the state of Indiana. Isn't that a violation of the Indiana Real Estate Commission and also considered criminal under Indiana law? But, hey, c'mon, we all know Carl has the dirt on LOTS of people....bend her over the desk, Joey, just saying, but what do I know...I know this.....this smells big time.....and why would the feds not have gone after Carl's alleged phone call and false statements to Oregon authoritites, lying that he was heading a multi-state sales tax investigation to help his buddy Timmy have Larry Michael's bus impounded....I believe that is completely illegal--but, oh, yeah, those pesky statutues of limitation....
  • Witch Hunt Failure
    Joe Hogsett, who has lost every election he ever ran, has, without any pretense, used his APPOINTED position as a political grandstand towards fulfilling his political ambition.....to get elected, to anything, anything at all....This is just another example..paid for by taxpayers who financed this witch hunt..
  • Who pays
    So who pays for this witch hunt? Who reimburses Mr Bales for the million dollar defense as well untold stress on him and his family. Seriously, all this in an effort to bring down Brizzi and using Mr Bales as the Chum. Pretty darn weak Joe. So who do you report to when you fail?
  • No Justice
    What a shame. I was really looking forward to Brizzi getting some time.
  • "Teflon Brizzi"
    We all knew the investigation was going on. We all assumed that once the underlings started rolling, there would be evidence forthcoming. But we were all wrong. I guess this is why "innocent until PROVEN guilty" is the law of the land.
  • US Attorney
    Finally this Indianapolis saga can end. The US Attorney shows honor by not simply pursuing a criminal prosecution to justify the expense of a 3 year investigation into Mr. Brizzi.

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