Ex-prosecutor won't serve jail time on bribery charge

David Wyser

He once worked to put bad guys, behind bars. Now, a former Marion County chief deputy prosecutor narrowly escapes prison time himself.

David Wyser was sentenced Monday to home detention and three years of probation for accepting a "corrupt reward." He tells Eyewitness News several others involved, skated free.

Wyser is now a felon, heading to Nevada, but not to serve time in federal prison there. Nevada is his new home and where he will serve six months of home detention and electronic monitoring for taking what a federal judge called "dirty money."

"I told the truth and I took my punishment for it," Wyser said after leaving U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

The former Marion County deputy prosecutor admitted he took a $2,500 campaign contribution from the father of Paula Willoughby, just months before he signed a modification to grant Willoughby an early release from prison.

Willoughby was serving a 70-year sentence for hatching the murder-for-hire scheme that killed her husband Darryl. But with Wyser's help, she was free after 18 years.

Darryl Willoughby's sisters say Wyser got off easy.

"He accepted a bribe and he's been allowed to get away with it," said Jessie Willoughby.

"His actions allowed a murderer to go free," added Vickie Stanley.

Wyser told the court before his sentencing, "I need to apologize not only to this court, but to the public, my family and government for my conduct. I gladly accepted that contribution. It's the worst judgment I've done in my whole life. It wasn't for greed. I was caught up raising funds."

Federal District Judge Sarah Evans Barker said Wyser's crime occurred after he had already decided on the modification, but none the less corrupt, adding, "this was a bad campaign decision to take dirty money.

"There are a lot of people with dirty hands," she said. "(Wyser) shouldn't be scapegoated for all the other messy behavior. He's the only one you got by the tail."

"I don't think certainly David Wyser pleading guilty to a felony is in any sense identifying somebody as a scapegoat. I mean, Mr. Wyser admitted to his criminal conduct," said U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett. "He'll never practice law again, he will carry his convicted felon status the rest of his life. So while we argued vigorously that he should also have a period of incarceration, the court simply disagreed."

Hogsett announced last month, after nearly three years of investigation, Wyser's former boss Carl Brizzi would not face charges. Wyser questions why he's the only one charged and convicted.

"I think anybody that's in the system knows that that was completely disingenuous. There is plenty of evidence supported by the documents that they filed in my case. All of those guys skated and gave lies and made up lies about their involvement," insisted Wyser.

He says Paula Willoughby's father, Harrison Epperly, should be held accountable, as well as Paula's attorney Jennifer Lukemeyer.

Wyser's sentencing comes on what would have been the 53rd birthday of the slain victim, Darryl Willoughby. Wyser will have to pay a $2,500 fine.

Hogsett said his office is still working, but cannot comment on the next move.