Saturday, November 02, 2013

Hogsett Seeks Lenient Sentence For Wyser Due To Cooperation

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett is asking a federal judge to mete out a lenient sentence for the former chief deputy of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to accepting a bribe in exchange for springing a convicted murderer from prison. Court documents filed in the case and discussed by Star reporter Tim Evans reveal just how corrupt the legal system has become in this city and state and the cavalier treatment given to public corruption cases by Hogsett's office. Hogsett claims a lenient sentence is warranted because Wyser cooperated with federal investigators. To the contrary, court documents prove that Wyser only cooperated after a corrupt attorney admitted her role in soliciting a bribe from him, which were confirmed by numerous e-mail exchanges that he had unsuccessfully attempted to destroy that were recovered by FBI investigators.

David Wyser told federal investigators that when he decided to accept a $2,500 bribe while acting as the chief deputy prosecutor under Carl Brizzi in exchange for granting a sentence modification to spring convicted murderer Paula Willoughby from prison, he asked his boss, about $30,000 in contributions he had already received from Willoughby's father, Harrison Epperly, over a several year period that criminal defense attorney Jennifer Lukemeyer had been prodding the prosecutor's office to free her client from prison. According to Wyser, Brizzi claimed that he had no knowledge of Willoughby's prior campaign contributions or who he even was. Despite discussing the matter with him, Wyser claims that he unilaterally made the decision to grant a rare sentence modification with Brizzi's consent. Wyser says he acted alone in soliciting the $2,500 bribe from Lukemeyer, who contacted her client and got him to write out a check to Wyser's campaign committee for his bid to become Hamilton County prosecutor.

According to a memorandum filed with the federal district court by Hogsett's office, Wyser had told the original attorney hired by Willoughby's father that the office as a matter of policy never agreed to sentence modifications in murder cases. Wyser sent that attorney a letter dated March 7, 2006 in which he denied the request, telling Willoughby's attorney that the prosecutor's office would not consider a sentence modification until Willoughby had served the minimum sentence. When Brizzi ran for re-election in 2006, Harrison Epperly wrote two separate checks to his campaign committee totaling $25,000. After Epperly told the first attorney about the campaign contributions and the fact that he had met in person with the prosecutor to discuss his daughter's case, the first attorney referred Epperly to Lukemeyer because of her closer working relationship with Brizzi and Wyser. In 2007, Lukemeyer met at a downtown restaurant with Wyser to discuss the sentence modification and mentioned to him the fact that her client's father had made the large campaign contributions to Brizzi and had spoken to him. Wyser told Lukemeyer that he would need time to think about the matter.

Reflecting the casual relationship Lukemeyer had with Wyser, she sent a follow-up e-mail to him after her meeting on March 14, 2007 in which she stated: "Hey, let's talk soon about Paula Willoughby and how to, or if we even can, resolve that issue. I am just jealous that my partners are taking all of your time, and I want some attention too! Talk to you soon." One of Lukemeyer's partners is high-profile criminal defense lawyer Jim Voyles, who has a close relationship with Joe Hogsett. The following day Wyser replied to Lukeymeyer's e-mail to ask her to remind him of the name of her client's father. When she responded that it was her client's father, Wyser asked to confirm that the size of the contribution was "$25K." Lukemeyer responded, "Yes it was. Just a drop in the bucket!"

During follow-up discussions, Wyser had considered seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to hear Willoughby's request since he believe it had merit and that would eliminate the appearance of impropriety if a sentence modification was later granted. He later told Lukemeyer that the prosecutor's office would move forward with approving the case without seeking a special prosecutor. According to the document, Lukemeyer and Wyser disagreed over whether Wyser indicated to her that he was comfortable with Epperly continuing to be a donor to Brizzi's campaign committee. He says he didn't agree to that; she says he did. After Wyser filed paperwork to run for Hamilton Co. prosecutor in November, 2007, Lukemeyer sent an e-mail to Wyser inquiring about it. In a follow-up e-mail and phone call, Wyser discussed with Lukemeyer how she could help out with his campaign and mentioned that Epperly needed to make a donation to his campaign.

Discussions about Willoughby's sentence modification resumed in January, 2008 when Lukemeyer sent Wyser an e-mail titled, "Free Paula." Wyser replied, "[I]s that something like 'free willy'?" Lukemeyer responded, "Well yes, and didn't you feel all warm and fuzzy after Willy got free? You'll get the same feeling when Paula is free too!" Wyser asked, "What will Paula do to make me feel warm and fuzzy?" He added, "Stay really, really, really quite (sic) about this little modification."

In late January, 2008, Epperly scheduled a meeting with Wyser at the prosecutor's office. Lukemeyer professed ignorance of the request when Wyser later discussed it, telling him that she told Epperly not to speak to him directly. Wyser assured her it was okay and went ahead with the meeting, which lasted for approximately 40 minutes. After the meeting, Lukemeyer sent Wyser an e-mail in which she told him that Epperly told her that he was "the best thing since sliced bread." Lukemeyer claims that she later spoke on the phone with Wyser and he assured her nothing would prevent the sentence modification from going forward, including additional campaign contributions. On the same day that Lukemeyer exchanged text messages with Epperly, he made another campaign contribution in the amount of $500 to Brizzi. In March, 2008, in response to another e-mail Lukemeyer sent to Wyser titled "Free Paula," Wyser solicited a campaign contribution for his campaign. Lukemeyer said she was talking to Epperly at that moment. Wyser wrote, "You should convince him to write a check on behalf of the whales." Lukemeyer responded that he would "whip out that checkbook of his" if he thought it would do any good. Lukemeyer proposes timing the sentence modification to July, 2009 when her client will have served a full term for one of the counts against her. As their conversations continued, Wyser told Lukemeyer that he would talk to Brizzi. Epperly shortly thereafter wrote another $2,500 campaign contribution to Brizzi's campaign.

On May 29, 2009, Wyser called Lukemeyer and communicated to her that Epperly needed to make a contribution to his campaign and asked her to communicate that message to him. Lukemeyer relayed the request and the same day Epperly wrote out a check to Wyser's campaign for $2,500. Wyser's campaign deposited the check on June 22, 2009. On June 23, 2009, the sentence modification for Willoughby was filed in the Marion Superior Court, which provided an early release date of July 2, 2009 for Willoughby. On August 25, 2009, Lukemeyer hosted a fundraiser in her home for Wyser at which she says he asked her to tell Epperly to contribute $5,000 more to his campaign. In January, 2010, media reports first reported the unusual sentence modification granted to Willoughby and the size and timing of the campaign contributions made to Brizzi's and Wyser's campaign committees. In some media reports, Wyser lied about his knowledge of Epperly's previous campaign contributions. Lukemeyer contacted Wyser to warn him about their past e-mails. He assured her that his e-mail account had been purged. Investigators found about 60 e-mails Wyser had deleted from his e-mail account that were later recovered.

If you believe Brizzi's claim that he knew nothing about someone who contributed $30,000 to his campaign committee, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I will sell you. Nonetheless, that was good enough for U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett's office to decide not to bring charges against Brizzi after a three-year investigation, Lukeymeyer, despite e-mails that documented her direct role in payment of the bribe to Wyser, and Epperly, the man who actually paid the bribe to Wyser.

Hogsett's office's claims about Wyser's cooperation are laughable. He first lied about the bribe before purging e-mails that proved his solicitation of the bribe, which represented felony obstruction of justice. He only cooperated after Lukemeyer started singing to federal prosecutors about her dealings with the prosecutor's office in order to save her own ass and after investigators were able to recover the e-mails Wyser had attempted to destroy. He then exonerated his boss of any wrongdoing despite clear evidence that he said he was communicating throughout this period of time with his boss about the case and had received his consent to go forward with the sentence modification even after questions had been raised about the earlier contributions Epperly had made to Brizzi's campaign. Both Wyser and Brizzi are clearly lying about Brizzi's involvement in the bribery scheme.

In the fixing of the Mobarecki drug case, Wyser makes clear that he knew of Brizzi's business relationship with Mobarecki's attorney and the fact that Brizzi had ordered the lenient plea deal opposed by him and other deputy prosecutors, along with the return of money police had seized from Mobarecki at the time of his arrest to be used to pay Page's legal fees for representing Mobarecki. Wyser denies that he knew that Brizzi had been given a 50% stake in the Elkhart building Page had purchased with borrowed funds, or the profits that Page and Brizzi had earned from the deal to lease the property to the state's Department of Child Services. Wyser claimed that Brizzi never linked his business ties to Page to his decision to order lenient sentencing for Mobarecki.

I don't know how anyone could have any confidence in the legal system in this county and state after the actions of the state's largest prosecutor's office and the total mishandling of the prosecution of this corruption by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the northern and southern districts of Indiana. There is clearly an elite group of legal players who are above the law and can pretty much do what they damn well please, while other attorneys face a death sentence to their legal careers for the most minor of transgressions that have absolutely no impact whatsoever on the administration of justice. I would note that I am naming Jennifer Lukemeyer and Harrison Epperly in this blog post, something Hogsett would not do in his official filings with the court in order to protect their reputations. It's his reputation that he should be concerned about. He has very little credibility left after his complete mishandling of this case.

Someone in the Justice Department needs to explain to the people of Indiana why our federal prosecutors use a different standard entirely for prosecuting public corruption cases than other districts throughout this country. If the Chicago U.S. Attorney's Office applied the Hogsett standard, neither former Gov. George Ryan nor Gov. Rod Blagojevich would have been prosecuted. It's also very curious that the NSA is spying on all our private e-mails and phone conversations, but the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis will not seek the court's permission to wiretap phones in order to prosecute public officials in Indiana. Here's a clue, Joe. Look up the meaning of honest services fraud. If you don't believe you have sufficient evidence to prosecute for bribery, you sure as hell can indict these corrupt bastards under the honest services fraud statute just like they've done in multiple cases in Chicago. You're not using the tools at your disposal because you are protecting people in order to advance your own political career. You're no better than Susan Brooks, who dumped well-investigated cases in the wastebasket to protect people she would rely upon to advance her political and professional career. What don't you explain to the public, Joe, why your office ignores all of the collateral corruption involving convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham that touches on some of the most powerful people in this city and state? Who are you protecting, Joe?


Marycatherine Barton said...

These people Joe H. and Susan B. are protecting bear the same satanic name as does the Pike High School football team -- RED DEVILS.

Anonymous said...

this situation sounds more like Louisiana politics where those with criminal appeals pending make political campaign contributions to candidates for the Louisiana Supreme Court.