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Prosecutor's office misses deadline for seized cash

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The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department likely will have to return more than $273,000 in cash seized as part of a racketeering investigation after the Marion County Prosecutor's Office missed a civil forfeiture deadline.

Law enforcement officers from IMPD, the FBI, Indiana State Police and other agencies in February 2009 raided six Indianapolis scrap yards operated by metal recycling powerhouse OmniSource, collecting evidence and seizing cash and property.

The raids were the culmination of a year-long undercover investigation into the company's purchase of stolen cars, boats, gutters, wiring and other items as scrap metal prices boomed.

Law enforcement officers turned the case over to the Prosecutor's Office Grand Jury division, which continues to investigate. And the Indianapolis-based Garrison Law Firm, which Prosecutor Carl Brizzi hired several years ago to handle select forfeiture cases in exchange for 30 percent of the take, began working on a case under federal racketeering statutes.

But no one—not Garrison nor anyone at the Marion County Prosecutor's Office—filed the paperwork necessary to keep the seized cash within 180 days, as required under state law. Each party blames the other for the oversight.

Law enforcement sources said the case never was referred to the internal Prosecutor's Office forfeiture unit, and that Garrison took responsibility from the start. A series of e-mails among Prosecutor's Office officials, obtained by Indianapolis Business Journal, say the civilian employees who run IMPD's forfeiture division were told Garrison was handling the case and were never notified of a change. IBJ is a sister publication to Indiana Lawyer.

But Greg Garrison said his contract with the county only gives him a cut of forfeited property he recovers directly, so he would not have been entitled to a percentage of the OmniSource cash seized by police on Feb. 23, 2009.

"They seized a bunch of money when they executed those search warrants," said Garrison, a talk-show host on WIBC-FM 93.1 in Indianapolis and Brizzi pal. "That’s not my bailiwick. I don’t have authority over that stuff."

IBJ on Monday requested a copy of the contract that outlines Garrison's role but has not yet received it from the Prosecutor's Office. Brizzi elected to split the forfeiture duties between the private law firm and employees of the Prosecutor's Office over objections from some of his own top deputies, who were concerned about just such a slip-up.

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Brodeur, who heads the narcotics and forfeiture units, reiterated his concerns in an internal e-mail after learning of the missed deadline.

"Without assigning any blame to any particular individual or group of individuals, I would note that this is an inherent problem with having forfeitures done in part internally and in part through outside counsel," Brodeur wrote on March 29, in a message to Brizzi and other top officials. "Sooner or later there is going to be some confusion or miscommunication on a particular case that results in a missed filing or other problem."

A law enforcement source said IMPD is considering filing a disciplinary complaint against Brizzi for failing to file in time to hold the seized cash. At least $273,727 was seized in the raids, according to a tally of amounts listed in IMPD incident reports.

Garrison said he could not discuss a timetable for taking action under the federal racketeering statutes, but he said an asset seizure still is possible even if a grand jury decides against criminal charges.

"Our intention is to seek forfeiture of the assets used in the criminal enterprise," said Garrison, who also handles forfeiture cases for the Metro Drug Task Force.

OmniSource has not yet asked for its cash back but would be entitled to collect the money immediately if it asks, multiple law enforcement sources said.

Marion County Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Susan Decker said the office cannot comment on active grand jury cases. Top-ranking Prosecutor's Office officials including Chief Trial Deputy David Wyser, who negotiated the Garrison contract, did not return phone messages.

OmniSource, a subsidiary of publicly traded Steel Dynamics Inc., is represented by Barnes & Thornburg partner Larry A. Mackey, who previously served as campaign chairman for Brizzi. Mackey said his relationship with the prosecutor has earned him no favors in the case.

"OmniSource was stunned when it became the subject of search warrants at their Indianapolis facilities more than a year ago," Mackey said in a statement. "Upon conclusion of the MCPO reviews, OmniSource will seek the return of all of its property that was taken during the searches, including a sum of seized currency."

No civil or criminal charges have been brought against OmniSource or any of its employees, Mackey noted. He said OmniSource has worked to eliminate scrap-metal theft and is cooperating with investigators.

Before the raid, OmniSource was one of the largest employers of off-duty IMPD officers. Department brass last year ordered officers to stop working for the company. No charges are expected for the roughly 50 officers who worked for OmniSource.

A spokesman for the IMPD referred all questions to the Prosecutor's Office. Police haven't discussed the case publicly since IMPD Maj. Chris Boomershine told industry newspaper Platts Steel Markets Daily in February 2009 that OmniSource kept documents on how to avoid antitrust violations, hired off-duty IMPD officers to target competitors and bought cars altered to appear stolen from undercover police officers.

Mackey blasted Boomershine's disclosures in a three-page letter to top officials at IMPD and the Prosecutor's Office in March 2009.

"Divulging confidential information in and of itself was wildly inappropriate," Mackey wrote. "Divulging it to Platts Steel Markets Daily constituted a purposeful effort on the Major's part to publicly damage OmniSource and its publicly traded parent."

The fact no action has been taken against OmniSource 14 months after the raid is no surprise to Republican blogger Gary Welsh. He predicted in May 2009 on his Advance Indiana blog that the case would go nowhere under Brizzi.

“These cases drag on and on and when nobody’s looking, they quietly announce there are no charges and is no evidence of a crime,” Welsh said.

Brizzi has refused, through spokeswoman Decker, to answer questions or grant an interview with IBJ in recent weeks, even as he conducted several interviews with other news outlets including WIBC radio.

IBJ has been investigating Brizzi's outside business dealings while in office, including a building he owns in partnership with a prominent defense attorney who has landed favorable plea deals from the Prosecutor's Office. Brizzi, a Repubican whose second term ends in December, is not running for re-election.

"When there is a tangible and meaningful request for additional information, Prosecutor Brizzi would be willing to sit down for an interview," Decker wrote. "During and after the WIBC interview, Prosecutor Brizzi fully addressed all of the issues and the answers speak for themselves."
 

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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