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Ex-prosecutor Brizzi faces disciplinary complaint

May 19, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission is recommending former Marion County Prosecutor Carl J. Brizzi III be punished for “a pattern of misconduct” that occurred during his time in office.

In the eight-page complaint filed this week, the commission chastised Brizzi for participating in a questionable real estate deal and for intervening in a criminal case involving the client of an attorney friend and business partner.

Reached by phone, Brizzi described the commission’s actions as “bizarre,” since the commission previously indicated it would not be pursuing disciplinary action.

In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”

“I find this very suspect, very unusual,” Brizzi said. “I relied on those representations as true, and they have not given any sort of explanation why they would suddenly reopen them.”

Commission officials did not immediately respond to IBJ's request for information about the March 2 letter.

Brizzi served as prosecutor from 2002 until 2010. The commission’s request that Brizzi be disciplined stems partly from an eight-year-old real estate deal first scrutinized by IBJ.

Brizzi in 2008 became a co-owner with Indianapolis attorney Paul Page in an office building in Elkhart, according to the complaint. The state Department of Child Services leased space in the building.

Page pleaded guilty in January 2013 to a wire fraud charge stemming from a 14-count indictment alleging he and other parties defrauded the state and a bank over their purchase of the Elkhart building and the subsequent lease deal with the state.

Brizzi failed to mention his interest as an owner in the building in his annual Statement of Economic Interest required by the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission, the commission alleges.

By failing to disclose his interest, Brizzi violated the rules of professional conduct for attorneys, the disciplinary commission charged in its complaint.

The commission also slammed Brizzi for intervening in a criminal case involving one of Page's clients.  

In February 2008, Joseph Mobareki was charged in Marion Superior Court with seven counts related to the possession of controlled substances—with the most serious charge a Class B felony. In addition, the prosecutor’s office sought the forfeiture of $17,550 in cash that Mobareki held at the time of his arrest.

The case was handed to deputy prosecutors Ronald Buckler and Lawrence Brodeur, who worked out a plea agreement in which Mobareki would plead guilty to one Class C felony and forfeit the cash.

Brodeur later learned that a new plea agreement arranged between Brizzi and Page would allow Mobareki to plead to a single Class D felony and keep the entire $17,550 in cash, according to the commission's complaint.

The more lenient plea deal prompted the Indiana Supreme Court in October 2014 to begin investigating Brizzi’s involvement in the Mobareki case. The commission alleges in its complaint that Brizzi intentionally made a false statement in his response to the investigation about his knowledge of the situation.

“[Brizzi] knew his statement was false at the time he made it,” the commission said in its complaint.

Brizzi also became the target of a federal investigation over whether he intervened in the case. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office, led then by current Indianapolis Mayor Joseph Hogsett, ultimately chose in October 2013 not to charge Brizzi.

“These allegations are literally eight years old,” Brizzi said. “They have been investigated and vetted by federal and state governmental agencies. There’s nothing new here.”  

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether to discipline Brizzi.

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