Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another Brizzi Pay for Justice Scandal; Will Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John Call on Brizzi to Resign?

Cory Schouten of the Indianapolis Business Journal reports on yet another apparent "pay for justice" scandal involving Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi:
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi last year intervened in a major drug case to offer a reduced sentence over objections from both law enforcement officers and his own deputy prosecutors.

He insisted on a plea deal for accused drug dealer Joseph Mobareki that would be acceptable to defense attorney Paul J. Page, Brizzi’s friend and business partner, law enforcement sources said. Brizzi also directed his staff—in a highly unusual move—to return $10,000 in cash seized from Mobareki. The money was routed through Page.

A year earlier, Page had arranged for Brizzi to own 50 percent of an Elkhart office building worth $900,000 without investing any cash or co-signing a loan. Brizzi also had collected at least $5,000 in campaign contributions from Page associates at the law firm Baker Pittman & Page and Page Development, which built the Villagio at Page Pointe condos.
Later in the article, Schouten reports on other questionable Brizzi interventions into pending cases:

IBJ found two other criminal cases where the Prosecutor’s Office supported modifications of felony charges for well-connected attorneys, including Page. But there was nothing in court files that suggests the changes were out of line from standard operating rocedure.

One of the cases involves Rob Odendahl, the sales and property manager for Page Development. He was charged with rape, battery and criminal confinement for an incident involving an ex-girlfriend in June 2005. In November 2006, Odendahl pleaded guilty to criminal confinement, a Class D feloy, and got 365 days of home detention and two years of probation.

The following year, Odendahl hired a new attorney, Paul Page, to pursue a sentence modification. In May 2008, the Prosecutor’s Office and a judge agreed to end Odendahl’s probation term early and change his conviction to a misdemeanor, citing good behavior, a stable job and custody of his son.

The deputy prosecuting attorney on the case, Courtney Curtis, said she didn’t find
the victim’s story credible and figured a jury would have doubts as well, so she offered the initial plea deal. She did not object to the modification—and says she did not feel any pressure from her bosses.

“It was just a really crappy case,” said Curtis, who now handles intellectual property cases for Overhauser & Lindman.

In another case, Prosecutor’s Office Chief Deputy David Wyser supported modification of a 1999 felony murder conviction the Indiana Supreme Court had upheld on appeal in 2001.

Defendant Guilford Forney, then 19, had been involved in a drug deal in which his cousin wound up dead of a gunshot wound. Forney, who had not fired the gun, was sentenced initially to 55 years before winning a reduction to 45 years supported by former Prosecutor Scott Newman.

Defense attorney Bruce D. Donaldson, of locally based Barnes & Thornburg LLP, last year persuaded Wyser to support a modification of the murder conviction justified by good behavior and an impressive educational track record while in prison. Forney was released on April 4, 2009, and is slated to serve two years on work release, followed by one year on probation.

Miller, who handled the case, said he doesn’t remember enough details to know whether an early release was appropriate.

Records show Barnes & Thornburg has given Brizzi at least $12,000 since 2004, and the firm’s partners have given thousands more individually. The firm also has served as registered agent for at least two LLCs on real estate deals in which Brizzi is a partner.

Kudos to Corey Schouten and the entire IBJ staff for their continued outstanding investigative reporting. To see the rest of the Brizzi article click here.

I have to commend Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana for being the first to identify that Brizzi's ethical violations were so serious that he should resign. I reached that point after he did. (See Gary's take on the most recent scandal by clicking here.) By now I would think many if not most Republicans also believe Brizzi should resign.
Let's see if Brizzi buddy Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John makes a public call for Brizzi to step down. If Brizzi resigns now, prosecutor candidate Mark Massa could take over and begin to restore the integrity of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office. If Brizzi doesn't step down the entire weight of the Brizzi scandals will fall on the shoulders of prosecutor candidate Mark Massa to carry this Fall.


Diana Vice said...

The Indianapolis Star is becoming less relevant with each investigative story printed.

karma09 said...

Paul, agree entirely on the immediate need for Brizzi to go.

However, Wyser remains the more eminent future threat to justice and prosecutorial integrity, since he's trying to get elected in Hamilton County.

When the Epperly/ Willouhby campaign-cash for sentence reduction story hit, Wyser claimed it was all proper, and that he'd only done 3 or 4 sentence reductions his entire career.

No mention of the Forney case by Wyser, where he did the exact same thing for another convicted murderer in 4/09.

1. Why is Wyser the one habitually doing this? It appears he's the guy running the shop, which would be an obvious Hatch Act problem for him.

2. Why is Wyser habitually cutting loose convicted murderers in the first place? Is this the judgment to run a prosecutor's office?

3. Who is the IMPD Deputy Chief who "recommended" to Wyser that he review the Forney case, and what is his version, and why can't Wyser remember the details? Sounds like a liar. Wyser has earned no benefit of the doubt.

4. Why is Wyser getting a pass for his less than candid public statements about sentence reductions, how often he does them, and for whom? His track record is horrendous, and now there's a pattern suggesting that there may be much more. His failure to mention Forney demonstrates a fundamental character flaw of dishonesty.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Yes, Tom John, and Ed Treacy, pray tell, why aren't either of you yet calling for the resignation of Carl Brizzi? We're listening. I certainly agree with those who are doing so!

jane said...

Will Tom John call on Brizzi to resign? Will anyone with kahunas in the Republican Party-state, county, city, call on Tom John to resign?

Bill said...

Paul, are you worried about your safety? Brizzi and Weiser have unlimted power.No one seems to be able to do anything about this. He and Tom John have to be laughing at us every day.

If I was a blogger and told the truth about Brizzi/Weiser I would be nervious for my famalies safty.

We all know about Carls temper.One phone phone call to a IMPD friend of his and we are all toast.

Craig said...

Is there any type of voter recall that can be enacted under Indiana law? This case calls for it so clearly if it can be done.

Please advise.

I know said...

The friends and family of wealth the Brizzi gang and others protect also control the TV and Print media everyday.

You are so right about a few phone calls and they destroy people and their families.

I know they did it to my family and it was found to be unjustified and the prosecutor refuses to do anything about it.

Wether they are in it up to their eyebrows or not they still steer the ship to make it go away for their friends. It keeps coming up everyday in these blogs....

Marycatherine Barton said...

Be brave, virtuous men and women in Indiana.
Be not afraid of bullies and evildoers who mean us harm. Look at the example Jesus gave us. Happy Easter, Paul.

Larry said...


People are beginning to talk, albiet quietly about pushing Tom John to resign. Expect the calls to get louder after the next election in which local republicans on average underperform the party nationally.
The good news is that Tom is loosing credibility and respect inside and outside the party. Look no farther than the Marion County Sheriff Race where McAtee has ignored Tom's personal attacks and has garnered very significant financial and political support.

The bad news is that he doesn't appear to care about the general consenous and will not gracefully bow out to help save the party.

Unless the ties between Tom John, Durham and Brizzi become more obvious and more questionable expect Tom to hang around until its to late to save whats left of the republican party.

Melyssa said...

Gary and Paul don't have kids or wives, so they can't really touch their families. I admire their courage. Gary and Paul are my favorite bloggers and I trust them because they place principle before the GOP party.

We're lucky we have a couple lawyers as ethical and principled as them looking out for us.

Bill said...


I understand what you are saying.But Tom Johns wife is a priviate eye, that makes be real nervious.

Its not that hard to track us all down these days.Can you imagine if Cotty was in charge today.We would all be in jail for some reason. Tom John has always been good at making the most of the assets that he has at his disposal.Well, now he has his own Private Eye.

Seriously, it is so 1984.

Susie said...

The culture of corruption that is stinking up this city includes but is not limited to the following players: Barnes & Thornburg
(B & T), Brizzi, Page, Durham. Former chair of the IN Supreme Court Disciplinary Committee, Donald Lundberg, who investigated complaints re: attorneys, has recently entrenched himself on the roster of B & T, which is representing Durham. Until the Disciplinary Commmittee is investigated, the web of corruption will continue. The buck starts and stops here.