Indiana News

Brizzi's Chief Deputy to Plead Guilty to Bribery

Wyser took campaign cash from father of freed murder-for-hire inmate

5/13/2013


David Wyser (photo courtesy RTV6)

Marion County's former chief deputy prosecutor will plead guilty to bribery, in a case which could pose problems for his ex-boss, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

David Wyser was gearing up for a run for Hamilton County prosecutor in 2009 when he received a $2,500 campaign contribution from Harrison Epperly, the father of a woman convicted of arranging her husband's murder. Federal prosecutors describe that check as a "reward" for agreeing to a request to shorten Paula Willoughby's sentence from 70 years to 40 -- short enough to allow her release based on the 18 years she'd already served, plus good behavior and other credits.

Brizzi received $29,000 in donations from Epperly over a three-year period.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett says Wyser's plea bargain requires him to cooperate with any further investigations. He won't comment on whether prosecutors have set their sights on Brizzi.

"These charges are making some in this community uncomfortable," Hogsett says. "Good. They should be uncomfortable."

Wyser faces a year-and-a-half to two years if Judge Sarah Evans Barker accepts prosecutors' recommendations, but federal judges have wide leeway over sentencing, even with a plea deal.

Wyser defended the sentence modification after the agreement came under scrutiny in 2010, pointing out the accused gunman in the Willoughby case had been acquitted, and a third defendant had already been released, even though a judge had called Willoughby the least culpable of the three. Wyser and Brizzi both returned Epperly's contributions after the controversy flared, but the questions about the plea deal likely played a role in Wyser's loss to current Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Buckingham in the Republican primary.

Brizzi didn't run for a third term.

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