Former Brizzi aide David Wyser to plead guilty to bribery charges
Former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser has agreed to plead guilty to bribery charges in connection with a May 2009 case.
According to court documents released Monday afternoon by US Attorney Joe Hogsett, Wyser is pleading guilty to bribery charge that could send him to federal prison for up to ten years.
Wyser is accused of accepting a campaign donation in exchange for getting a prisoner's sentence reduced.
Court documents exclude the prisoner's name. However, the circumstances match the case of Paula Willoughby, who was released from prison in 2009 - 30 years earlier than expected - after hatching a murder for hire scheme leading to her husband's death. In 2006, as her attorneys sought to negotiate a shorter prison sentence, Willoughby's father began sending thousands of dollars ($29,000) in campaign contributions to Brizzi.
Brizzi told Eyewitness News he didn't know Willoughby's father, Harrison Epperly, was behind the donations from EMSP Realty.
Wyser signed off on the reduced sentence. Wyser also received a $2,500 donation from Willoughby's father during a 2009 bid for Hamilton County prosecutor.
While Monday's news release doesn't specify the case, it does allude to the $2,500 donation made to Wyser's campaign.
Wyser said the donation came three years after a letter was sent saying he would be open to a sentence reduction and long before he ever entered that prosecutor's race.
However, Monday's charging document alleges that Willoughby's father wrote a check to the Committee to Elect David Wyser on the same day that the conversation took place between Wyser and Willoughby's defense lawyer. Willoughby was serving a 70-year sentence for murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Under Indiana law, this prisoner could not seek a modification or reduction of a sentence without the approval of the county prosecutor's office. According to the charging document, Wyser and the prisoner's attorney discussed the topic of Wyser receiving a campaign contribution from the prisoner's father.
"One day after the check was cashed, an agreement to modify the prisoner's sentence, signed by Mr. Wyser, was filed," Hogsett said.
The charging document alleges that this campaign contribution was provided to Wyser as a reward for his sentence modification recommendation.
Brizzi's office, meantime, denied any connection between its decision to reduce Willoughby's sentence and accept thousands in campaign donations from that same convict's father.
As part of the plea agreement, Wyser agrees to provide information, documents and testimony for any other criminal investigations. Hogsett isn't releasing any names involved in those investigations.
He is expected in federal court next week.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry issued the following statement this morning regarding David Wyser:
"David Wyser was a staff member under the prior administration of Prosecutor Carl Brizzi. It is thus inappropriate to comment upon any criminal charges which have been brought against him."
Wyser was most recently employed as the major felony deputy prosecutor in Madison County.
"When I realized there was a problem (with the US district attorney) that's when his resignation was accepted," said Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings.
Wyser resigned from that position a few weeks ago.