US Attorney Releases Tapes from Jimmy Dimora's Trial

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The US Attorney’s office in Cleveland had proven that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas.  Officials have released hundreds of phone tapes and video recordings of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, who was convicted of accepting bribes in return for helping business owners get county contracts.  

Ideastream’s Mark Urycki has details.



One of things the tapes reveal is that Dimora and his so-called A-Team of buddies liked to curse and party, often while people doing business with the county picking up the tab.   Here Dimora tells Auditor Frank Russo to invite Jerry Springer to one of their dinners.  Two business executives were paying for the dinner.  One was selling Oracle software.

RUSSO   "So, tell Jerry to come over and eat then, right?"

DIMORA  "Yeah, just tell Kevin because I don’t think it’ll be that crowded and you got the Oracle guy so F#&%! em.  If he buys for 8 or he buys for 10, what’s the difference?"

RUSSO  "Exactly."  

Most of the phone taps and video recordings were made about an April 2008 trip to Las Vegas Dimora made with the help of contractor Ferris Kleem.   Here Dimora talks with Cuyahoga County employee J. Kevin Kelley about whether Auditor Frank Russo would join them.   Kelley refers to the auditor’s “payroll” because Russo was accepting bribes to give people county jobs..

DIMORA “Everybody was in for the trip. You know what I’m worried about Frank saying Oh I don’t have the money cuz he went to Mexico again."

KELLEY   "You know that ain’t going to happen. His payroll might get a little heavy at the Auditor’s office."

JD  "That guys is $%#@ unbelievable."

KK  "He ain't passing up Vegas, especially with Ferris being there.  Know what I mean?  He’s already got Ferris believing he’s got him 10 jobs lined up. "

JD  Yeah.” 

Russo made several million dollars selling county jobs and accepting kickbacks for county contracts.  But Dimora accepted steak dinners, or work on his house and often failed to get any work for his friends.   Rasther than throw around his political weight or make threats, here Dimora nearly apologizes when asking Cuyahoga County Health Director Terry Allen to see if a restaurant owned by friend and contractor Ferris Kleem deserved to be ticketed for a smoking violation.

DIMORA    “He thought he was in compliance.  We all thought he was OK because he showed us what he did to make a smoking area for his customers.

ALLEN    "Right."

DIMORA   "It looked like a separate open wall but maybe I don’t understand the definition of that.”

Dimora claims he did nothing wrong and argues that he reported any gifts he received to the state ethics commission.   But Judge Sara Lioi refused to admit that document into the trial.    Dimora is serving 28 years in prison and has reportedly asked President Obama for a pardon.

Ferris Kleem received 3 years in jail,  Kelley 6 years, and Russo 22 years for accepting or giving bribes for county contracts.


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