Friday, December 11, 2009

Brizzi's Tangled Web Of Conflicts

It looks like Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's financial ties to Tim Durham aren't his only problem. Investigators might want to look at his financial relationship with real estate developer John Bales. According to Brizzi's financial disclosure statements, he owns an interest in Curtailing Investments, LLC valued between $50,000 and $100,000. According to the Articles of Organization for the Curtailing Investments filed with the Secretary of State on August 29, 2003, the organizer and registered agent of the company was John Bales. If Bales' name sounds familiar, it's because he was at the center of a controversial no-bid real estate contract Mayor Ballard's administration signed with another one of his companies, Venture Real Estate Services, LLC, to sell off the City's "surplus" park lands. More importantly, though, Brizzi engaged Bales to handle the leasing of office space for the prosecutor's office.

The county several years ago retained another Bales company, Meridian Asset Development, to find building space for county agencies to lease. Instead, the company wound up buying buildings and becoming the developer. That included about 72,000 square feet of space Brizzi's office leased at 251 E. Ohio Street. Meridian Asset Development later became a part of Bales' Venture Companies. I previously reported that one of that companies' divisions, Venture Value Fund I, identifies Brizzi as being a member of its Board of Managers. According to the company's website, Venture Value Fund I was "formed for the purpose of investing in distressed and undervalued real estate projects and properties due to the recent downturn in the housing market as well as the related tightening of credit for residential and commercial real estate projects." Brizzi's financial disclosure statements have not disclosed his role on Venture Value Fund's board of managers. Brizzi was one of six board of managers described in the private placement offering for the company, which indicated that the six board members represented Series A ownership units in the business and had invested an aggregate of $60,000 between them and were committed to investing an additional $90,000 in the Series B units. The offering proposed up to $30 million in Series B units sold in increments of $10,000 per unit. This is how a private placement referendum for Venture Value Fund I describes Brizzi:

Carl has served as the Marion County Prosecutor since November 2002. Using his comprehensive plan titled the “Brizzi Brief,” Carl focused the efforts of the Prosecutor’s office on prosecuting without apology the worst offenders and creating innovative crime prevention programs. Carl was a leader in changing Indiana law to allow law enforcement officers to use sting operations to catch those soliciting children over the Internet. Carl has aggressively prosecuted those who make, sell and use Methamphetamine. In 2005, Carl’s office achieved a 95% conviction rate in Meth cases. As former Chief Gang Prosecutor, Carl understands the danger associated with increased gang activity. For this reason, he fought to pass legislation that doubles the prison sentence for certain gang-related crimes.

In addition to tough prosecution, Carl also makes it a priority to engage in efforts that will help prevent crime. In October 2003, he kicked off the Mentor Network with Colts Coach Tony Dungy. Carl also created MY-KID (Mentoring Youth-Kids improving Directions), a mentoring program that pairs one volunteer with three middle school students and developed the EKG (Educating Kids about Gun Violence) program aimed at reducing youth gun violence.


Carl was a deputy prosecutor and the Chief Gang Prosecutor under former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman. He also served as Chief Investigative Council with the United States House of Representatives and was a founding partner in the law firm of Brizzi, Collignon & Dietrick.

Carl was raised in Indianapolis and attended Christ the King Elementary School, Bishop Chatard High School, and is a graduate of North Central High School. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Indiana University and earned his law degree from Valparaiso School of Law.

I raised the issue before and I'll raise it again. Should Carl Brizzi have a business relationship with the same guy who procured and developed government office space for the Prosecutor's Office? While Brizzi struggles to explain his tangled and conflicted relationship with Tim Durham, reporters might want to begin asking him questions about his financial relationship with John Bales.

10 comments:

commentsmy2cents said...

I am not one of those "Political Disciples" out there commenting on the indystar web-site and blogs like this to make a person look good....but I feel the need to say something here....I think that this article is a little misguided. Carl took office in Jan. 03 and the office made the big move in May 03. The plans for the move were well in place before he ever took office. I know this because I was there...I worked at the MCPO at the time. I think a little more digging into this story might be needed.

Advance Indiana said...

Brizzi worked for the prosecutor's office during his predecessor's tenure. Newman worked for Brizzi's election and handed it all off to him. It also doesn't explain why Brizzi doesn't disclose Venture Funds on his financial statements.

The Indy Patriot said...

Now you are on the scent.....

I know said...

I hope Carl rats out some of his Grand Old Party buddies who have been at the same trough of glut with blessing themselves with local and state contracts. He knows well of the State Contracts given to friends of high ranking officials that have defaulted on hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds and still keep their contracts while they beg the legislature for tax breaks while the concrete gang that went to prison for price fixing does their time.

It really appears the grand old party has left the building and has pushed Carl out in the open all alone.

One can only hope the other friends and family with insider information, unethical and possibly illegal contracts for government services gets mentioned by Carl. He knows full well who they are and so do some of us commoners who couldn't get him to do anything about it.

Southsider said...

Speaking of "office leased at 251 E. Ohio Street" How long have we the taxpayers been making rent payments and how much? Seems to me our money would be better spent by building a Courthouse or Justice Center on one of the Market Square gravel lots and moving the Pros Office and Courts under one roof.

Cato said...

We do not want to Prosecutor and the Courts under one roof. It's already a kangaroo court. We don't need judges and prosecutors seeing each other 20 times a day in the parking garage, the bathroom, the lunch room, etc.

Stick the Prosecutor's Office in a warehouse by the Airport, and make them drive to court, the same as the defense attorneys.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Southsider, Actually I've always thought the gravel lot next to the CC Building would be a good place for a Judicial Center should there be the money to build one. Having the courts in the same place as the other city/county offices creates a potentialy dangerous situation.

commentsmy2cents said...

In response to the Southsider's comment about the rent for 251 East Ohio.....it is a good fact know that all of the government offices pay rent...if they have office space in the city-county building then they pay (very expensive) rent to Marion County Building Authority...the future income of all of these leases was probably one of the things Building Authority used as security for the loans they just took out in order to support the Wishard Hospital scheme. Can you imagine how much better government services could be if they could spend their money on providing government services instead of paying rent!

jason121976 said...

The move was already in place under Newman-he spearheaded it. Brizzi did work for Newman, but had been away from the office a few years at the time of election (at some small firm near McNiven's maybe?)

The story was that the money Brizzi earned in private practice led to his real estate purchases, which led to increased wealth. Now that story seems dubious.

Without questioning the merits of government agencies renting office space-nearly all of them do. Even the PD's are no longer in the CCB, they are now in the Gold Building. I guess we have to line the pockets of the developers somehow.

interestedparty said...

"Having the courts in the same place as the other city/county offices creates a potentialy dangerous situation."

This probably isn't news to you, either, but talk about a dangerous situation...

When I was on jury duty - attempted murder, a drug case with two gangs involved - we jurors had to walk right past the families/friends of both the defendant and the "victim" to get in and out of our assigned room, and when we adjourned for lunch, all three sides found ourselves in lines at the City Market. It was not comfortable in the least.