Brizzi looking forward to life after prosecutor's office

Carl Brizzi

Indianapolis - With his last day on the job Friday, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is ready to start his new career in law and reputation management.

He told Eyewitness News he's formed Carl Brizzi and Associates, LLC, "under the idea that bad things happen to good people. A lot of times people need help with the legal consequences, but there are also non-legal [consequences]."

Brizzi brings a lot of personal experience to the table. When he won a second term in 2006, many saw him as a rising star in the Republican party. But three years later, several Republicans urged him not to seek re-election and later to resign, fearing he'd be a liability.

Brizzi faced scrutiny for several real estate deals and his ties to businessman Timothy Durham, the subject of an FBI raid early last year. While Durham hasn't been charged with anything, he is part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

"It was tough, but at the end of the day, there was nothing there except for rumors and speculation and innuendo and that's all died down now as well," said Brizzi.

He hopes he's remembered more for the cases he tried, such as winning convictions in the Hamilton Avenue murders. Still, Brizzi leaves office ready for a fresh start.

"I'm sad because this is great office and it's a great job. I work with great people but at the same time I get happy feet, I want to go learn something new and do something else," he said.

Brizzi calls his new career a good fit.

"Obviously there's the legal experience, the criminal experience background [I have] as prosecutor," he said, "but also the experience of being on the other side of the aisle, of actually being the guy in the cross hairs, the focus of all this public attention."

He opens an office in Hamilton County in January, with an office in downtown Indianapolis to follow, and he will continue his talk show on WIBC Radio.

Despite getting the cold shoulder from fellow Republicans, Brizzi said he hasn't ruled out another run for office down the road. He said he still has nearly $500,000 in his campaign fund.

"We've been using it to support some candidates from around the state, those who will take it. There are some who returned it - and maybe live to fight another day," said Brizzi.

Two Republicans who received money are City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn and state Sen. Mike Delph. As for who Brizzi will support in the mayor's race?

"I don't know. I have tremendous amount of respect for Mayor Ballard. I think he's done some great things," he said, "But I also have a lot of respect for Melina Kennedy. She ran against me in 2006. It was a close race. I was the only Republican to win in 2006. She's no shrinking violet. She's a super-tough opponent and she's qualified," said Brizzi.

Controversial cases

Always outspoken and never camera shy, Brizzi took the lead in many high profile cases. Last summer he dropped drunk driving charges against an Indianapolis officer accused of killing a motorcyclist over a faulty blood draw.

He tried several criminal cases, winning convictions in the Hovey street murders.

Brizzi also started a mentoring program with former Colts CoachTony Dungy, worked to curb graffiti and pushed legislation making it harder to make meth.

"It's a pain in the neck to go get Sudafed if you have the flu because you have to present your driver's license. Well, that was our idea and that essentially stopped the meth wave," he said.

Still, his eight years in office are somewhat overshadowed by the last 12 months, starting with the FBI raid of businessman Timothy Durham's office.

Brizzi says he speaks with Durham around once a week.

Fellow Republicans criticized Brizzi for his business and political ties to Durham. Durham was Brizzi's biggest campaign donor, a point that still grates him.

"There were scores of politicians all across the state both Republican and Democrat that took money from him and then all of a sudden when all the allegations came out, again, none of it proven, where did they go? They ran and hid and no one returned the money either," he said.

When Eyewitness News pointed out that Brizzi didn't return the money either, he said, "I spent all of mine."

Brizzi also faced scrutiny for several investments including a stake in Harry and Izzy's restaurant, which he says he still owes six figures on.

"That's what I don't understand - it's like where did you get the money. Well, I borrowed the money. Well, who did you borrow the money from? That's how people make investments or they inherit money," he said.

For the record, he says it didn't come from Tim Durham.

While Brizzi is adamant he didn't do anything unethical, "certainly if somebody came to me and said 'Should I do this?' I would say, 'No, don't do that. Even though you are allowed to do it you shouldn't do it.'" he said.

Brizzi leaves office this week, but not the spotlight.