Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brizzi Won't Face Federal Charges

While his former chief deputy prosecutor and business associates have faced federal criminal charges, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett announced today that former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi will not face criminal charges. Rumors have been circulating for a couple of weeks that a federal grand jury returned a no-bill indictment in the investigation of Brizzi after hearing evidence, but when this blogger contacted a spokesman for Hogsett's office, Tim Horty, I was told that the office could not comment on my question as to whether the investigation of Brizzi had been concluded without any charges. Notwithstanding Horty's lack of candor towards me, Hogsett's office released a statement this afternoon to the IBJ acknowledging no charges would be filed against Brizzi. It reads, in part:
For some time now, Carl Brizzi has been the target of a federal investigation into actions taken and decisions made while he was the elected Prosecutor of Marion County.
The inquiry has centered on two cases: State of Indiana vs. Paula Willoughby and State of Indiana vs. Joseph Mobareki. This investigation of possible violations of federal criminal law involved, but was not limited to, allegations of bribery.
While it may be unacceptable for a prosecutor to receive a $29,000 campaign contribution from the father of a woman who has requested her prison sentence for murder be modified (Willoughby), or for a prosecutor to have a financial relationship with a criminal defense lawyer while determining what plea bargain should be extended to a client of that same defense lawyer (Mobareki), the criminal law requires more to support a conviction.
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.
The federal criminal investigation and prosecution of David Wyser for bribery produced no direct evidence from any witness – including David Wyser – that any individual other than Wyser authorized a sentence modification for Paula Willoughby.
Likewise, the federal criminal investigation and prosecution of Paul Page for bank fraud in relation to the Elkhart property produced no direct evidence from any witness – including Paul Page – that the proceeds Mr. Brizzi received from the Elkhart transaction influenced the decision to give Paul Page’s client Joseph Mobareki an unusual plea bargain.
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.
However, under the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is obligated to report Mr. Brizzi’s alleged misconduct in the Willoughby and Mobareki matters. I have instructed that this office provide the evidence gleaned from this investigation to the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility for their determination on whether the alleged misconduct should be referred to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.
It is truly remarkable that two knowledgeable attorneys like Wyser and Page could plead guilty to committing federal crimes that, on their face, required some participation on the part of Brizzi. Yet, the U.S. Attorney's Office tells us that neither could provide any information that was useful in obtaining a criminal indictment against Brizzi. Instead, he's going to report Brizzi to the Disciplinary Commission to consider whether he violated the rules of professional conduct. Think about it. Brizzi didn't pay anything to gain a 50% stake in that Elkhart building that was leased to the Department of Child Services under a sweetheart deal. This came after he decided not to pursue a criminal investigation of DCS officials in the Tajanay Bailey case that he had announced months earlier, an agency that coincidentally employs his ex-wife. The sweetheart lease deal was brokered with the same guy representing the state with whom he executed a sweetheart lease deal for office space for the prosecutor's office. His interest in the Elkhart building supposedly represented a finder's fee. The last time I checked Brizzi isn't a licensed real estate broker in Indiana. How could he receive compensation for brokering a real estate agreement if he's not licensed while he's supposedly working full-time as prosecutor of the state's largest county?

The Mobarecki and Willoughby cases are even more outrageous. Brizzi allowed approximately $20,000 seized from an accused drug dealer to be returned to his attorney, who was also Brizzi's business partner, Paul Page, so the money could be used to pay the client's legal fees. Prosecutors almost never give back money they seize from drug dealers, particularly when they plead to a crime. The early release arranged for Paula Willoughby, who was serving time for hiring someone to murder her husband, while receiving a large campaign contribution from her father is even more troubling. Wyser accepted a much smaller campaign contribution and agreed to plead guilty to bribery. Yet no charges are brought against Brizzi, who ultimately got to decide whether his office would support an early release from prison for Willoughby. I guess I'm having a difficult time understanding why Wyser and Page agreed to plea deals if there wasn't enough evidence to charge the guy at the top. That's to say nothing of his close relationship with convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham with whom he once lived while going through his divorce.

To quote Woody Allen's character Fielding Mellish in "Bananas","It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham." Or at least that's what poor Charlie White must be thinking after he got hit with six felony convictions for casting one vote in one election while registered to vote at his ex-wife's house while he was in between marriages and now may lose his law license, thanks in large part to the representation, or lack thereof, that he received from Brizzi. Word on the street is that Brizzi has plans to move to London. So much for Joe Hogsett's huffing and puffing a few months ago when he stood before TV cameras claiming he had important people in this town shaking because of how seriously he takes prosecuting public corruption. A lot of hot air if you ask me.

Given the current state of affairs in our U.S. Prosecutor's office here in Indianapolis, enjoy the court scene from Woody Allen's "Bananas."


Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the Disciplinary Commission acted yet on their administrative look at his continued practice of law?

Gary R. Welsh said...

You're asking the wrong person. You should direct your inquiries to our Supreme Court and the attorneys the Court anoints to serve on the board overseeing their activities.

guy77money said...

Hey I still say he cut a deal to screw Charlie White, thus keeping him out of jail.

JudgeNot said...

you left out the best cross exam ever performed....