The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Cops, courts and fires

May 14, 2013

Ex-assistant Indy prosecutor faces bribe charge

INDIANAPOLIS — A former Marion County deputy prosecutor has offered to provide federal authorities with evidence that could lead to corruption charges against other current and former Indianapolis officials, U.S. attorneys said Monday.

U.S Attorney Joe Hogsett told reporters at a news conference that David Wyser, 53, had agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of a potential plea deal on public corruption charges. Wyser could face up to 10 years in prison, if convicted. Hogsett said the proposed agreement doesn’t include a recommended sentence. A judge must accept the agreement for it to take effect.

Wyser was the top deputy prosecutor under former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who didn’t return phone calls and emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Hogsett said the charges against Wyser might make some other people uncomfortable. “Good,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or who you were,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who your friends were or happen to be.”

Wyser had worked since January as a deputy prosecutor in Madison County, but resigned last week after the allegations. They are not connected to his work in Madison County.

“I think David did an outstanding job here,” said Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings.

Federal prosecutors allege that Wyser accepted a $2,500 bribe in 2009 to reduce the 70-year sentence of a prisoner convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They say the money, which came from the prisoner’s father, went toward Wyser’s campaign for prosecutor of suburban Hamilton County.

“It’s very sad to prosecute a prosecutor,” said Zachary Myers, one of the federal prosecutors who led the investigation of Wyser. “They are held to an even higher standard than the ordinary citizen, because after all, their job is to enforce the law.”

Wyser’s first court hearing is scheduled for May 23 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. Court documents didn’t list a defense attorney.

The alleged sentence reduction scheme first surfaced in 2010, when Brizzi’s office denied it to Indianapolis media. According to news reports at the time, the woman’s father had also donated nearly $30,000 to Brizzi’s campaign from 2006 through 2008, and her sentence was reduced so much that she became eligible for early release.

Brizzi’s office said in January 2010 that the woman’s release was based solely on the merits of the case and that campaign contributions had “no role or influence.” Brizzi resisted calls to resign, but he didn’t seek re-election to a third term as prosecutor.

Hogsett said he couldn’t comment about which, if any, current or former public officials might be targets of the federal investigation.

Brizzi’s campaign finance chairman in 2006 was Timothy Durham, a wealthy Indianapolis businessman and major Republican donor who was sentenced to 50 years in prison in November after a federal jury convicted him of securities fraud, conspiracy and 10 counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors said Durham and two co-conspirators took $200 million from investors in Fair Finance, based in Akron, Ohio. Durham is appealing those convictions.

Brizzi has defended himself against criticism of his associations with Durham.

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