ILNews

Feds decline to press charges against former prosecutor Brizzi

IBJ Staff
October 22, 2013
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Federal prosecutors have declined to press criminal charges against former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi after a three-year investigation failed to yield sufficient direct evidence he accepted bribes while in office.

A joint public corruption task force led by the FBI and Indiana State Police in the last few weeks presented evidence it had gathered on Brizzi to federal prosecutors, who feared the mostly circumstantial case would not hold up in front of a jury or on appeal, sources told IBJ.

Brizzi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett confirmed for the first time in a statement Tuesday that Brizzi was indeed the target of a federal investigation, but that successful cases against two Brizzi associates had failed to yield anything beyond circumstantial evidence against the two-term prosecutor.

In a statement, Hogsett described Brizzi's actions — accepting $25,000 in campaign contributions from the father of a woman (Paula Willoughby) who was seeking a modification to a murder sentence and arranging a lenient plea bargain for a business partner's client (Joseph Mobareki) — as "unacceptible" and vowed to seek to have Brizzi's law license rescinded.

The U.S. Attorney's Office successfully charged Brizzi's former deputy prosecutor David Wyser for accepting a bribe (he pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing), and defense attorney and Brizzi friend Paul J. Page for wire fraud (he also pleaded guilty).

But the feds were unsuccessful at trial in a fraud case against Brizzi friend and business partner John Bales and two partners, who faced a handful of felony charges relating to a real estate deal in Elkhart. A jury found the men not guilty on all 13 counts.

The not-guilty verdict in the Bales case was likely a factor in the U.S. Attorney's Office decision not to pursue a case against Brizzi, though Hogsett did not reference the case in his prepared statement.

"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," Hogsett said. "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."
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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