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Cuyahoga corruption case climaxes

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M.L. Schultze
Jimmy Dimora has defended himself in public forums for two years. Today, he's doing it in court.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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The arraignment on 28 federal charges of bribery and corruption against Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora began at 12:15 p.m. in federal court in Cleveland. Amd Dimora did what he's done for more than two years: said he's not guilty.

He'll be released on a $50,000 bond.

Also standing on the side of the bench will be two common pleas judges, Bridget McCafferty and Steve Terry and a handful of other county employees and contractors.

All were arrested this morning in the climax of a federal corruption probe that began more than two years ago, and includes charges that accelerated through much of the last decade. Commissioner Dimora said nothing this morning as FBI and IRS agents led him from his Independence home. But he has insisted for years that he'ss innocent and has resisted calls to resign.

Among those calling for his resignation is fellow Democratic Commissioner Tim Hagan, who reiterated that today.

Dimora is largely regarded as the biggest target of the federal probe, along with former Auditor Frank Russo. Russo was charged last week and is expected to plead guilty to 21 counts of corruption. Dimora is expected to fight the charges as are the judges and other defendants named today.

Hagan on long process

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Peter Lawson Jones on Dimora's style

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Additional story:

Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones says the arrest of fellow Commissioner Jimmy Dimora this morning (Wednesday) won’t change how he and Tim Hagan complete their final three months in office. Cuyahoga County will scrap its current form of government at the end of this year and in January install a county executive and eleven-member council. 
Lawson Jones says Dimora’s indictment, arrest and not guilty plea contrast sharply with Auditor Frank Russo’s apparent decision to plead guilty as soon as tomorrow – but not with Jimmy Dimora’s style.
Dimoro and Russo were regarded as the two biggest targets of the massive corruption investigation, though two judges also are facing felonies.
Lawson Jones says that he hasn’t consulted Jimmy Dimora on county business since the FBI investigation began more than two years ago.   Despite today’s (Wednesday’s) indictment Dimora remains a county commissioner until January – or unless he resigns. 




Name: James"Jimmy" Carl Dimora

Born: 06/21/1955
Current elected position: Cuyahoga County commissioner since 1999
Previous elected/political positions: county Democratic Party chairman 1994 through June 16, 2010; Bedford Heights city councilman and mayor
First publicly acknowledged as investigation target: Federal agents raid Dimora's home and county offices on July 28, 2008
Lawyer: Richard Lillie
Corruption probe connections:
·         Dimora runs the county Democratic Party -- with help from Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo -- for nearly 16 years.
·         Dimora is identificed as “Public Official 1" and Russo as “Public Official 2” throughout early stages of the investigation.
·         Federal prosecutors accept dozens of pleas from contractors, county employees and others who sketch out a picture of widespread corruption in awarding county contracts and jobs. That includes allegations that a company running a halfway house pays for gambling trips to Las Vegas and Windsor, Ontario.
·         Construction executive Steven Pumper pleads guilty to giving Dimora more than $33,000 in cash and $58,000 worth of home improvements in exchange for several favors.
·         Dimora is accused of accepting gifts ranging from limousine rides to granite sinks in his home to use of a downtown condo. He repeatedly insists he’s innocent.
·         Dimora is also accused of calling Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Bridget McCafferty to help Pumper settle a civil case before her, according to the plea.
·         "I'm no angel," Dimora says in 2009. "But I'm no crook… I’m not doing anything different than any other public official does.”
·         Russo is charged with 21 corruption counts on Sept. 9, 2010 and is expected to plead guilty.
·         Dimora pleads not guilty to 28 felony counts on Sept. 15, 2011 and is expected to fight the indictment.

Related WKSU Stories

Dimora launchpad turns sour
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dimora's political career started by accident
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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