Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Ind. Gov't. - Still more on "Former Marion County deputy prosecutor David Wyser pleads guilty to federal charges"
A few days after Memorial Day in 2009, Wyser had a conversation with the attorney representing Paula Willoughby, according to the federal charging document. Willoughby, Indianapolis, had been convicted more than 15 years earlier of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her husband.
Willoughby, the daughter of wealthy Indianapolis businessman Harrison Epperly, was sentenced in 1992 to 110 years in prison. An appeal in 1996 cut the sentence to 70 years, but Willoughby still faced at least 15 more years behind bars before she would become eligible for release.
Court documents say Wyser and Willoughby’s attorney, Jennifer Lukemeyer, on May 29, 2009, “discussed receiving a campaign contribution from the father” of Willoughby. Epperly quickly wrote a $2,500 check to the Committee to Elect David Wyser.
Lukemeyer did not respond to telephone and email messages from The Star.
About three weeks later — “ on or about June 22, 2009,” according to a court document — Epperly’s check was deposited in Wyser’s campaign account.
The next day, court records say, “an agreement to modify (Willoughby’s) sentence, signed by David Wyser and (Lukemeyer), was filed with the division of the Marion Superior Court with jurisdiction over (Willoughby’s) sentence and was granted the same day.”
Campaign finance records show Willoughby’s father also gave Brizzi at least $29,000 from 2006 to 2008 — before his daughter was released.
After the donations were made public and questioned, Brizzi and Wyser returned them.
At the time, Brizzi and Wyser defended their rare agreement to modify Willoughby’s sentence. They also said they didn’t initially know the full scope of her father’s campaign donations, in part because most of Brizzi’s money came from the father’s company.
Wyser and Brizzi also received donations from other attorneys in the firm representing Willoughby, and Lukemeyer sponsored a fundraiser for Wyser shortly after Willoughby’s release was approved.
Sentence modifications were almost impossible to obtain under Brizzi and Wyser, said Indianapolis defense attorney Robert Hammerle.
“When it was me, a public defender, someone who was poor or unimportant,” Hammerle said, “the prosecutor always said ‘no’ to sentence modifications. It was just something we had to live with. Willoughby was the exception.”
Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 14, 2013 09:15 AM
Posted to Indiana Government