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Prosecutors seeking 14-month sentence for attorney Page

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Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Indianapolis defense attorney Paul J. Page to 14 months in prison for his role in a real estate deal involving a state-leased office building in Elkhart.

Page pleaded guilty in January to a single count of wire fraud before the government tried his co-defendants, John M. Bales and William E. Spencer, at an eight-day jury trial in February that ended in an acquittal on all 13 counts.

The sentencing hearing for Page is scheduled for Monday morning in South Bend.

Prosecutors argue in a sentencing memorandum that Page should be sentenced at the high end of guidelines, calling for a range of 8 to 14 months, since as an attorney he should have "known better" than to conceal the source of his down payment for the Elkhart building.

A strong sentence "would help deter other financial crimes," added Assistant U.S. Attorney Jesse M. Barrett.

But Page's attorney, Robert W. Hammerle, argues in his sentencing memorandum that U.S. District Court Judge Robert Miller Jr. should give Page probation. He notes that Page has accepted responsibility and apologized for his conduct, has no prior criminal record, and his crime did not result in losses by either Huntington Bank (the lender on the building) or the state of Indiana.

Page's felony conviction means he'll lose his license to practice law.

"This significant penalty alone places him in harsh contrast to the situation of his co-defendants, John Bales and William Spencer, who following a trial by jury were acquitted on all charges and are now free," Hammerle wrote.

Seven friends, family members, business associates and a priest wrote letters to the judge describing Page as a devoted husband and father to three children and an upstanding member of the community.

The original indictment against Page, Bales and Spencer carried 14 counts of wire, mail and bank fraud. The government agreed to drop all but one of the charges Page was facing, in exchange for his cooperation.

Page also agreed to forfeit the office building in Elkhart he has said he co-owned with former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Brizzi was also a target of the investigation that led to the indictments, but federal authorities in late October said they would not pursue charges against him, citing a lack of sufficient direct evidence he accepted bribes while in office.

During the trial in South Bend, federal prosecutors said Bales and Spencer provided a down payment so Page could buy a building in Elkhart to lease to the state's Department of Child Services, without disclosing Venture's involvement to the state.

The government said the deal violated an agreement between Venture and the state that barred the company from direct or indirect ownership of properties where state agencies leased space.

But the defense said the arrangement amounted to a loan. Attorneys for Bales and Spencer argued there were no victims in the Elkhart deal, no loss and no intent to defraud: The state wound up leasing the building it wanted, and the bank loan on the property was current and paid.

The jury sided with the defense.

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  • Come Again
    Can someone explain to me how Bales was not found guilty? I seriously don't get it. Was it a complete botch job by the prosecutors? If Page was guilty how were the others not?
  • seems like the honest one got the worse
    Everyone's parents told them to tell the truth and it would be better then lying no matter what the circumstances. Well mom, dad your wrong, and here is how. Seems Paul Page told the truth (At least far more then did Bales, Brizzi or Spencer). And the government who lost the other cases wants to hurt the one person to the fullest extent who told the truth. They say they want to make an example of him. Seems to me that Mr. Page may not be as well connected as the other three? I may be a bit passionate about how I feel about someone who I consider a friend being punished as he is. But just seems to me it's extreme and unfair. Everyone walking knows the others do not have clean hands on this deal and knew exactly what was happening the whole time.. But they got zip... So make an example of the one person who maybe wanted to plea as to not get a stiffer penalty. Or.... believe the only one who told the truth and find a more fitting penalty then the max. Like nothing else but loss of license. After all aren’t Bales and Brizzi attorneys too?? Time in prison does not seem fitting for this one - for sure.

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