(INDIANAPOLIS) - Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi will not face criminal charges in connection with bribery allegations.
US attorney Joe Hogsett explained the decision Tuesday in a statement. Hogsett investigated Brizzi's actions in two criminal cases: State of Indiana vs. Paula Willoughby and State of Indiana vs. Joseph Mobareki. .The case stems from David Wyser, one of Brizzi's deputy prosecutors, pleading guilty to accepting a bribe. Wyser was the top deputy prosecutor under Brizzi.
Prosecutors allege Wyser accepted a $2,500 bribe in 2009 to reduce the 70-year sentence of Paula Willoughby, who was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The money allegedly came from the prisoner's father.
Willoughby was released from prison in 2009 - 30 years earlier than expected - after hatching a murder for hire scheme leading to her husband's death. In 2006, as her attorneys sought to negotiate a shorter prison sentence, Willoughby's father began sending thousands of dollars ($29,000) in campaign contributions to Brizzi.
Hogsett writes, "While it may be unacceptable for a prosecutor to receive a $29,000 campaign contribution from the father of a woman who has requested her prison sentence for murder be modified (Willoughby), or for a prosecutor to have a financial relationship with a criminal defense lawyer while determining what plea bargain should be extended to a client of that same defense lawyer (Mobareki), the criminal law requires more to support a conviction."
Hogsett says he could find no evidence that anyone other than Wyser was responsible for Willoughby's sentence reduction. He also could not find evidence "that the proceeds Mr. Brizzi received from the Elkhart transaction influenced the decision to give Paul Page's client Joseph Mobareki an unusual plea bargain."
Hogsett added, "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."
"However, under the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, the U.S. Attorney's Office is obligated to report Mr. Brizzi's alleged misconduct in the Willoughby and Mobareki matters. I have instructed that this office provide the evidence gleaned from this investigation to the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility for their determination on whether the alleged misconduct should be referred to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission."
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