Supreme Court readmits Brizzi-linked lawyer convicted of fraud

Keywords Attorneys / Law / Legal Issues

An Indianapolis lawyer who was suspended for two years after his federal wire fraud conviction in a public corruption investigation involving former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi will once again be allowed to practice law in Indiana.

The Indiana Supreme Court last week issued an order reinstating Paul J. Page to the practice of law.

Page pleaded guilty in January 2013 to a single federal felony wire fraud charge and was sentenced to two years of probation and a $10,000 fine in November of that year. His law license was suspended afterward.

Page was charged in a 14-count indictment, and as part of his guilty plea, he agreed to testify if necessary against co-defendants John M. Bales, a real estate broker, and Bales’ partner, William E. Spencer. The co-defendants later were found not guilty in a jury trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The charges related to a real estate deal involving an Elkhart office building leased to the state. The verdict helped unravel a related public corruption investigation targeting Brizzi.

Justices agreed to readmit Page because they said he applied for readmission in good faith, he complied with discipline orders, is remorseful, and his conduct since discipline was imposed has been exemplary. Page took and passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination within six months of his reinstatement petition, the court noted.

“The petitioner can safely be recommended to the legal profession, the courts and the public as a person fit to be consulted by others and to represent them and otherwise act in matters of trust and confidence, and in general to aid in the administration of justice as a member of the bar and an officer of the Courts,” justices wrote in the reinstatement order.

Justice Mark Massa did not participate in the decision. Massa in 2010, then a Republican candidate for Marion County prosecutor, called on fellow Republican Brizzi to resign in the wake of investigations into allegations of bribery and questionable real estate deals during Brizzi’s time as Marion County prosecutor.

In one such deal, federal prosecutors said Page arranged for Brizzi to own 50 percent of an Elkhart building worth $900,000 that was leased to the Indiana Department of Child Services, though Brizzi invested no money and didn’t co-sign a loan.

Page was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for concealing the source of a $362,000 down payment on his purchase of the Elkhart building.

When the court suspended Page for two years in May 2014, Massa likewise did not participate in the matter. Then-Chief Justice Brent Dickson dissented from his colleagues who ordered the two-year suspension, believing that Page should have been disbarred for his conduct.

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