Friday, January 29, 2010

Justice For Sale: FBI Probes Brizzi And Wyser

FOX 59 News' Russ McQuaid has an exclusive story on a new probe the FBI has launched into influence peddling in the Marion County Prosecutor's Office. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who is already under suspicion for his ties to alleged Ponzi scheme operator Timothy Durham, is the focus of the probe along with his chief deputy, David Wyser, who is running for Hamilton Co. Prosecutor. Allegations center around a case where a millionaire Indianapolis businessman contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Brizzi and Wyser before the two prosecutors agreed to a modified sentence for a convicted murderer who had served only 18 years of a 110-year sentence for being found guilty of hiring a hit man to kill her husband. The convicted murderer's father made the large contributions to Brizzi and Wyser. Those tainted contributions were returned to the murderer's father within the last few days as this probe heated up. Hats off to former Marion Co. Judge Gary Miller, a Republican, for having the courage and conviction to speak out against Brizzi's and Wyser's conduct in this matter. Russ McQuaid reports:

The FBI inquiries come in the wake of a high profile raid by federal agents in November at the offices of financier Tim Durham on Monument Circle. Durham is a close friend and campaign supporter of Brizzi, donating nearly $200,000 to the prosecutor's re-election campaign in 2006.

An attorney for Brizzi, Tom Collignon, told Fox 59 News that it would be, "a leap of faith," to construe an FBI inquiry as an investigation.

Word of the FBI inquiry comes as Fox 59 News has uncovered a pattern of campaign donations to both Brizzi and his Chief Trial Deputy David Wyser at the time when the prosecutor's office was signing off on a motion to reduce the prison time of a woman originally sentenced to 110 years for the murder of her husband.

Paula Epperly Willoughby was convicted in the killing of her husband Darrell in 1991. After just 18 years in prison, Epperly Willoughby's sentenced was modified to time served.

"I was outraged," said former judge Gary Miller who presided over the trial. "I thought it was absolutely ridiculous for anybody to think that was an appropriate way to modify a sentence in this case."

Wyser said he agreed to the modification due to rehabilitation and family concerns.

"It was the right thing to do. It was based upon the merits. I would do it again."

Paula Epperly Willoughby's father is Harrison Epperly, a millionaire real estate magnet with property in downtown Indianapolis. From 2006 through 2008, Epperly donated $29,000 to the Brizzi campaign. $20,000 was donated the weekend before Brizzi's budget busting re-election in 2006. Those were the years his daughter's attorney was negotiating with Brizzi's office for a sentence modification.

"In April of 2009 Miss Lukemeyer and I drafted an order for the court modifying her sentence," said Wyser.

On May 29, 2009, less than a month before Epperly Willoughby's motion for reducing her sentence would be filed with the court, Harrison Epperly donated $2500 to Wyser's campaign for Hamilton County prosecutor.

"I understand the timing may not look good to some people," said Wyser. "It depends on how you want to put a spin on it."

Epperly Willoughby was released from the Indiana Women's Prison in early July. On August 25th her attorney Jennifer Lukemeyer sponsored a fundraiser for Wyser at her downtown Indianapolis condominium. Wyser raised $2250 that night. In a statement to Fox 59 News Lukemeyer said the Wyser fundraiser, "is not a story as far as it relates to Paula."

Wyser and Brizzi told Fox 59 News that in the last week they have returned the donations to Epperly and his company EMPS LLC. The decision to return the money coincided when word of the Fox 59 investigation leaked through the city's legal community.

At this time there is no investigation by any legal authorities into the circumstances surrounding Paula Epperly Willoughby's early release from prison.


M Theory said...

I feel sorry for Brizzi's kids for their father did not show them by his own actions how to lead a life of honor.

I hope they get those critical life lessons from their mother who had wisdom to divorce him.

Unknown said...

It's "real estate magnate", Russ, not "real estate magnet." Hard to trust a reporter who lacks basic vocabulary skills.

M Theory said...

Nancy, while spelling mistakes irk me too, I know lots of brilliant people who do not spell perfectly all the time. I'm good, but sometimes I'm moving so fast that I make mistakes even when I know how to spell the word correctly.

I'm sure your spelling is not perfect either.

Let's put the light where it belongs in regard to this story...on Brizzi, not the reporter.

Does Brizzi pay you?

Unknown said...

Whoa, "Nancy" (hehe, like that's really your name)--you stick out like a sore thumb.

Carl Brizzi is famous for the Hamilton street murders. Gary Welsh appears to getting more famous for bringing down the Hamilton County crooks!

Indy4U2C said...

I wonder how much "Sweet Pea" gave to Brizzi to avoid prosecution for Ghost Employment, Theft, Corrupt Business Influence, Official Misconduct, bribery charges to never appear...despite documented evidence on page 1 of the newspaper.

Mr. Irsay: How much did you donate to Brizzi so no prescription fraud charge was presented to a court?

Pacers team: How much did you donate to Brizzi so no criminal charges would be filed for drug possession?

"Bones" Ackles, well, how much did he 'donate?'

karma09 said...

Let's not Wyser get a free pass here.

1. He claims to be "just" the chief trial deputy, overseeing the trial work of other prosecutors, and therefore avoiding Hatch Act problems. This trial was over 3 administrations ago. Looks more like something an office-wide administrative Boss would sign off on.

2. It's Wyser's signature on the Agreed Modification, not Brizzi's. He's the one that "sat down" with the defense attorney and "worked it out."

3. It's Wyser that made the spectacular judgment call to cut a deal w/ a convicted murderer to slice her sentence by over 80%, REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES. This may make sense if she'd pulled some unconscious deputies out of a prison riot or fire, but not just because she's a lot nicer now.

4. Ah, but then we see the campaign contributions and fund-raising hosting going on. There's a more rational explanation.

5. Then we see the "been caught stealing" reaction, returning the money once the news is out, but not one minute before.

6. But hey, "I'd do it again." More evidence of good judgment, right David? If there's nothing wrong, why return the money?

Sleaze bag. Sue me, truth is a defense that would hold up in a defamation suit.

Gary R. Welsh said...

As Chief of Staff, did Helen Marchal have to review this sentencing modification? If she had any role in the decision, could that have prompted her abrupt departure from the race? Just asking.

Indy4U2C said...

I saw Judge Miller on TV. He was a respected judge. If he says this is wrong, it IS wrong.

Now, since when did the Chief Deputy Prosecutor ever handle routine sentence modifications? --I'll tell you: he doesn't! That is for a line prosecutor assigned to the job.

Something stinks here!

--But then again, "Sweet Pea" was never prosecuted.

Maybe it is time for a U. S. Attorney to do something with corruption in the Southern District of Indiana!

karma09 said...

AI, the mechanics of Brizzi's office need to be developed. I've seen other commentators come close to describing it before. My experience is:

a. Brizzi was rarely home unless a cherry pick case was due for a breathless press conference, or one of his political connections needed a favor.

b. Wyser bullied and thugged his way around the place and functioned as the HPIC (you can fill in the "P," the rest stands for Head __ In Charge). This included much more than simply overseeing trial work and "strategizing" on trial preparation, but included direct employee supervision at any level at any time, contrary to his Hatch Act "de minimus" false explanations. This is yet one more example of such management actions by him. I'm sure he never asked Helen, nor felt the need to. Same for Brizzi, unless they happened to discuss the sleazy campaign money they both were getting for this.

c. Helen focused much time and attention on electability for Brizzi, and treaded lightly around "the men" in the office. She in no way exercised supervisory power or review authority over Wyser, or his wonderful judgment.

d. They all attempt to re-write for the public a fantasy universe that never existed behind the closed doors of the 6th floor.

Hats off to Russ McQuaid, if Brizzi or Wyser were in the IRS, they'd have him audited as a punishment for daring to look behind the curtain.

I know said...

Is the Barnes and Thornburg Attorney and former FBI agent that is reported to have assisted with the Durham mess with Tim Morrision dismissing the seizure of assets the same person who is the Chairman of the Indiana Gaming Commission?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Tim Murphy chairs the Indiana Gaming Commission. He used to work for the FBI before going to work for Irwin Financial as its CFO. We know how well that went. Barnes & Thornburg's Larry Mackey is defending Durham in some capacity.

Gary R. Welsh said...

To answer your question directly, I have no knowledge of Murphy playing any part in the dismissal of the federal civil forfeiture action.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Thank you, Channel 59. That is what we need in Indy, a whole lot more of investigative journalism of Marion County politicians, by those paid to do so.

karma09 said...

2 other thoughts before drifting off to sleep:

Wyser fired deputy prosecutor Kristina Whittenburg in March of 2009, because she "wasn't 100% honest with us," and,"at the very least there's an appearance of impropriety." In what universe does this not equal an "appearance of impropriety?"

And, Wyser is a wimp compared to the "soft on crime" Democrats. The murder sentence he undid and would "do it again" was obtained by the last Democrat to hold the office after a jury trial in 1992, Jeffrey A. Modisett. Draw your own conclusions, but keep the laugh track at the ready the next time he talks about how tough he is on serious offenders. I'd like to hear what Mr. Modisett, and any surviving victim's family members have to say about the deal. Nobody, especially Wyser and Brizzi, seems to mention that other people were affected.

I know said...

Thank you and keep up the great work!

Mann Law, P.C. said...

Two things: Line deputies do not make these type of decisions. In fact my experience is they are not allowed to do anything but plead someone to lead charge without permission from the supervisor.

Second: What judge approved this deal? Even though the parties agreed, the judge could have refused to accept it.

Anonymous said...

Karma, I think Modisett would be wise to not get into this. You seem to have a firm grasp of the history of MCPO. Surely you remember the modifications that went down on Modisett's last week in office?

M Theory said...

Professor Karlson called Brizzi's WIBC show today and grilled him. I could not catch it all.

Did anyone happen to record it?

Unknown said...

It's bad enough that Carl Brizzi timely traded on Cellstar/CLST Holdings, just prior to Brightpoint's acquisition. It may very possibly be criminal insider trading if certain premises turn out to be facts.

Now my question is did his recent change of fortune come from Cellstar/CLST Holdings or from bribes? After watching the Fox 59 report, I don't know what to think other than I truly believe Carl did not make his money honestly. No wonder his wife left him. Holy cow.

karma09 said...

David, I see you're worried about the Hatch Act. You've changed your web site to delete the reference to "supervising hundreds of deputy prosecutors."

Maybe the feds will be fooled. Perhaps your page isn't cached and they'll never notice the change.

You need to start anticipating more.

The Hess Express said...

Carl Bizzi is a joke and an embarassment to the people of MArion County. He should resign immediately...

Indy4U2C said...

True Conservative: In Marion County sentence modifications are assigned to a prosector whose full-time job is sentence modifications.

I know said...

They fear nothing in having their facts questioned time and time again. Their ego and intimidation tactics cover any of their fear and anxiety.

The only way the crap will stop is the FBI and the citizens quit doing inquiry and charge these fools and then put them on PUBLIC TRIAL with no plea deal, no back room big shot lawyer friend and court system manipulation and then the rest of the slime balls will sit up and take notice.

Brizzi was quoted as he had a press release on Brad Hiller stealing from the Senate Republicans that corruption on his watch would not happen. What he didn't say was the press release was a call to the folks not to steal from his Republican buddies.

Mr. Brizzi and an FBI inquiry if it is happening and all the other Durham mess needs to be on the front page with ALL the facts right along with his friends and influence peddling buddies who have gotten contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars illegally and he looked the other way.

That will cause the IU School of Law and any other institution of learning to then ensure the LEGAL profession in Indiana does what it is supposed to do!

The people of Indiana suffering from lack of jobs, lack of education also unknowingly suffer from a corrupt, broken and insane criminal justice system that everyone in it either looks the other way or fears some lawyer in it.

With the Governor touting no public corruption in his administration the last five years is either ignorant or arrogant. Maybe he does not read the paper or talk to his Republican friends. He has the mess in front of him daily and he being the leader everyone keeps touting for higher office needs to get out and lead or get swallowed up in the tidal wave that is coming.

Indiana lacks leadership EVERYDAY, not just for elections. Indiana lacks a moral compass and effective public safety from the senseless ego driven people who are supposed to protect the hard earned dollars that good and decent people pay in taxes everyday.

Isn't it time to clean house?

dcrutch said...

Amen on the congrats to ch 59. For airwaves that are suppossed to serve the public, it's practically unheard of to get political corruption by local officials covered by television in this town. They're typically busy with those hot stories on the Colts, the latest forecast, or Jim Shella demeaning citizens who dare to protest.

Erich said...

Brizzi's radio program WAS podcast archived through Nov 28, 2009. A few days after the FBI raid on Fair Finance. My recollection is he was not on the Nov 28 program.

It appears new programs are no longer being archived. I thought he had stopped the program...