Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi appeared during the regular Saturday afternoon time slot allocated for his WIBC radio show “Crime Beat” as a guest instead of a host.
Brizzi was interviewed by WIBC host Steve Simpson. Simpson asked Brizzi about the allegations of unethical conduct that have risen as the result of a Fox59 News investigation and the calls for his resignation.
“What we’re talking about here is rumor, innuendo. There is no allegation of any ethical or illegal wrongdoing.”
Brizzi, elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, announced in January he will step down at the end of the year when his term ends. He said he will not resign under pressure.
The prosecutor admitted he spoke as recently as last week with financier Tim Durham, who he has described as a friend and business associate. Durham is currently under investigation by the FBI for his financial dealings of which Brizzi was a part. Brizzi denied knowing whether he was under investigation though sources have told Fox59 News that FBI agents have talked to individuals in and collected documents from the Marion County criminal justice system in their inquiry into possible influence peddling and corruption.
Brizzi was asked about the campaign money he received from the millionaire father of a convicted killer at the same time his office was lobbying for her early release from prison. Nearly $30,000 in donations were returned by the Brizzi campaign once it became known that Fox 59 News was about to break the Paula Willoughby story.
“It was the right thing to do,” said Brizzi, who denied any connection to the pending story and his decision four days earlier to give the money back more than four years after it was received. Brizzi also told Simpson that the surviving family members of Darrell Willoughby, Paula’s husband, endorsed the killer’s release.
“We have affadavits from the mother of the deceased, saying Paula should be released.”
However, Darrell’s brother Richard and his sister, Denise Vogt, told Fox59 News they have filed an ethics complaint with the Indiana Supreme Court, contending they were never advised by Brizzi’s office that such a sentence modification was in the works and the Willoughby faced a summer 2009 release date. Those complaints list Brizzi and his chief trial deputy David Wyser.
Brizzi was also questioned about a building he owns in Elkhart with Indianapolis defense attorney Paul Page. Brizzi contends he put no money into the deal, in which he received half interest, and that his partnership with Page is not a conflict of interestd though Page represents some 200 clients who have criminal cases pending in Brizzi’s office. The prosecutor said that while he was not obligated to do so, he will have his chief of staff oversee those cases to remove any hint of favortism.
One Page client who appeared to have received a favorable plea bargain is Joseph Mobareki. In 2008, Mobareki was arrested with thousands of doses of steroids, several guns and more than $17,000 in suspected drug cash. In a plea agreement, Mobareki was allowed to plead guilty to one low level felony which is eligible to be reduced to a misdemeanor and $10,000 of his cash was returned to his attorney while there is no directive that Mobareki cooperate with narcotics detectives. The Indianapolis Business Journal obtained a memo by chief narcotics prosecutor Larry Brodeur opposing the deal and indicating he would approve it only at the direction of Brizzi or Wyser. Brizzi told Simpson that unspecified “serious allegations” forced him to agree to the Mobareki plea agreement, “and we retained our integrity in the office.”
Brizzi said he would only consider resigning if it were proven that his reputation forced jury’s to lose confidence in his office and defendants were found not guilty, “but that’s not happening.”
“What rule have I violated? What ethical rule? What legal rule have I violated? I want someone to point to me because here’s the thing, I’m not a dumb guy. I’ve been a prosecutor for a decade. If I wanted to hide any of this, don’t you think I could have put it in somebody else’s name out of state? Whatever? Its completely transparent. Everything has been disclosed. There’s no ‘Gotcha!’ moment here,” said Brizzi.
Upon leaving the WIBC studios Brizzi told reporters, “If there’s anything else that I haven’t answered, please ask me because I’m here.”
Brizzi has returned down numerous requests for comment and interviews by Fox59 News.