Former Marion Co. chief deputy prosecutor faces federal bribery charges

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A former Marion County chief deputy prosecutor faces federal bribery charges, and has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with an ongoing investigation.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett announced the charges Monday against 53-year-old David Wyser, who worked as chief deputy prosecutor under former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Hogsett said Wyser’s guilty plea includes a promise to cooperate with federal authorities and testify before grand juries and at any criminal trials.

“These charges are making some in this community uncomfortable. Good. They should be uncomfortable. It’s making some in positions of power feel threatened by accountability to the people. Good. They should feel threatened,” Hogsett said.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or who you were,” he added. “It doesn’t matter who your friends were or what your personal politics happen to be. If you violate the public’s trust we will hold you full accountable.”

Hogsett said Wyser accepted a campaign contribution as a reward for modifying the prison sentence of convicted killer Paula Willoughby.

Willoughby was released in the summer of 2009 after serving 17 years for conspiring to murder her husband, Darrell Willoughby, in 1991. The woman’s family spent several years lobbying for her early release from prison.

In 2009, authorities said Wyser accepted a $2,500 check from Willoughby’s father, millionaire industrialist Harrison Epperly, for his Hamilton County prosecutor’s campaign. A month later, Wyser signed the agreement to release Willoughby from jail. Fox 59 investigated the release during a series of reports in 2010.

Darrell Willoughby’s family expressed relief and surprise at Wyser’s guilty plea.

“I didn’t think it would come to this,” said sister-in-law Carmelita Willoughby. “I really didn’t think they would get charged with taking bribery for releasing her.

“We believe that justice should rule…not money, not influence, not power but justice. If you break the law, a price to be paid,” she said.

“Now I would like to see it continue on up and reach Brizzi and clean up the whole mess there,” she added.

When contacted by Fox 59 News for comment on his guilty plea, Wyser responded with an expletive. Brizzi did not respond to a request for comment.

Wyser will go before a federal judge on May 23 to plead guilty.