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Indianapolis attorney pleads guilty in deal with prosecutors

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Indianapolis attorney and developer Paul J. Page has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in an investigation that also targets former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Page on Friday pleaded guilty to a felony wire fraud charge in U.S. District Court in South Bend, agreeing to testify if necessary against co-defendants John M. Bales, a real estate broker, and Bales' partner William E. Spencer in the Northern District case.

Page separately agreed to cooperate with a Southern District investigation that could forestall additional charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jesse M. Barrett noted during the morning hearing.

Page, 47, could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charge, but he opted to take his chance on leniency in exchange for his cooperation.

A 14-count indictment in South Bend alleges Page, Bales and Spencer defrauded the state and a bank over their purchase of a building in Elkhart and a subsequent lease deal with the state's Department of Child Services first revealed as part of an IBJ investigation.

A trial in that case is scheduled to begin Jan. 28 and last up to two weeks.

The government agreed to drop the 13 other charges Page was facing, assuming he cooperates as promised. Page also agreed to forfeit the office building in Elkhart he has said he co-owned with Brizzi. Page's sentencing is scheduled for April 12.

Page declined to comment as he left the courtroom Friday to meet with a probation officer.

His attorney, Robert W. Hammerle, said Page was a victim of a scheme orchestrated by Bales. He pointed to the fact that Bales named the company that wound up owning the Elkhart building L&BAB LLC, an acronym for "lazy and broke-ass bitch", an apparent reference to Page and perhaps Brizzi as well.

The government has not filed any charges against Brizzi.

Asked whether the investigation in the Southern District has Brizzi as its target, Hammerle said: "Use your own judgement. Beyond that, I'd refer you to the U.S. Attorney's Office."

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis declined to comment.

Barrett declined to comment or provide a copy of the cooperation agreement involving Page, which was was not filed in court.

During the hearing, Barrett described the probe as a "parallel investigation in the Southern District into conduct in which Mr. Page was involved."

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. asked Page several questions about the agreement to ascertain whether the terms were clear. Page acknowledged he could be called to testify in the case against Bales and Spencer, and agreed to stipulations that could extend his potential prison sentence including the fact that the crime required "sophisticated means" and "special skills".

Page acknowledged in court and in the agreement that he concealed from the bank that he received funds from Bales to buy the Elkhart building in 2008.

The two had agreed to split the proceeds, despite the fact Bales' firm, Venture Cos., represented the state in lease deals for state agencies. The firm's contract with the state explicitly banned Venture and its partners and employees from “any ownership interest” or any “attempt to acquire” properties to be leased by the state.

"I'm guilty of these charges," Page told the judge.

Hammerle said the lender has not lost money on the deal since Page honored his deal.

"As long as I've done this, the toughest cases, right or wrong, are when you like your clients," Hammerle said. "I like Mr. Page."

Page was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1990 and does have a history of discipline, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys. The details of the discipline are not posted on the Indiana Supreme Court's website.

Jason Barclay, an attorney for Bales, said his client has not entertained or accepted a deal with federal prosecutors.

"We're looking forward to proving his innocence on January 28," he said.

The Indianapolis Business Journal is a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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