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Local attorney enters plea deal, will cooperate in probe involving Brizzi, sources say

A local attorney and developer has signed a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney of Northern Indiana, admitting to wire fraud for his role in the purchase of a building leased to the state of Indiana in Elkhart.

As part of his agreement, Paul Page surrenders the building to the federal government and “will cooperate fully with the U.S Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana in regard to matters that I have been informed the U.S. Attorney Southern District is investigating.”

Multiple sources tell Fox 59 News that those “matters” involve former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who was a partner in the Elkhart building deal at the center of the investigation of Page and real estate broker John Bales.

Bales and Page were due to come to trial in U.S. District Court in South Bend later this month as a result of a 14-count indictment regarding the purchase of the building which was later leased to the state of Indiana.

Brizzi previously told Fox59 that he was granted half interest in the building, worth an estimated $500,000, as a “finder’s fee” even though he put no money into the deal.  Bales and Page have been longtime associates of Brizzi’s, donating money to his campaign for prosecutor as well as engaging in other personal business deals.

Fox59 first reported on allegations of questionable plea deals approved by Brizzi in early 2010.  In one deal, Page represented steroids dealer Joseph Mobareki.  In a rare move as part of the plea bargain, Brizzi approved returning money seized by narcotics officers to pay Page’s legal fees.

In July of 2009 Brizzi and chief trial deputy David Wyser approved an unusual sentence modification of convicted killer Paula Willoughby.  Willoughby, who was originally sentenced in 1991 to 110 years in prison for the murder of her husband Darrell, was given an early release.

Willoughby’s father, Harrison Epperly, donated at least $55,000 to Brizzi’s 2006 re-election campaign.  Willoughby’s attorney, Jennifer Lukemeyer, held a political fundraiser for Wyser at her downtown condominium a month after the early release.  Brizzi and Wyser have always maintained the early release was for humane reasons, including that Willoughby’s remaining son was without parents since his father had been murdered and his mother in prison.

Brizzi was a personal associate of convicted swindler Tim Durham.  Durham was sentenced to prison in November for his role in the $200 million collapse of Fair Finance – an Ohio-based firm where Brizzi briefly served on the board of directors.  Brizzi and Wyser both received campaign donations from Durham.

Fox59 spoke to Paul Page’s attorney by phone.  When asked to comment on his client’s plea agreement and whether Page would cooperate in the investigation of Brizzi, attorney Robert Hammerle responded, “go figure it out for yourself.”

Tim Horty, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett, told Fox 59 News, “the plea bargain speaks for itself.”

Page faces an April sentencing of up to 20 years.

Fox59 reached out to Carl Brizzi, leaving a voicemail message on his cell phone.  So far, we have not heard back.

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