Closing arguments Friday in McCafferty trial

6:58 PM, Mar 24, 2011   |    comments
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AKRON -- Defense attorneys for former Cuyahoga County County Common Pleas Judge Bridget McCafferty completed presenting their case late Thursday morning in her trial here in U.S. District Court.

The defense did not put McCafferty on the stand.

The jury was sent home for the day and told to return Friday morning, when closing arguments will begin. The jury is expected to get the case for deliberation sometime Friday.

At the end of the session Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi partially ruled on the defense's motion to dismiss all 10 counts of allegedly lying to the FBI brought against McCafferty.

Lioi immediately denied their motion on six of the counts Wednesday and, first thing Thursday morning, she also denied the motion on the remaining four counts.

McCafferty, 45, of Westlake, is on trial in federal court here before Lioi for allegedly lying to the FBI on Sept. 23, 2008, about her actions involving two cases in her courtroom.

Prosecutors allege that she intervened in those two cases after conversations with then-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and then-Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo.

The last two witnesses the defense presented Thursday morning were Robin Seibert and attorney Richard Koblentz. Seibert testified that she worked as Russo's scheduler in his office.

Seibert testified that she was never told to give a schedule of upcoming events that she had compiled for Russo to McCafferty, to use for political campaigning purposes.

Russo had testified Tuesday that he regularly gave the schedule to McCafferty.

Prosecutors asked Seibert if she had any knowledge of who else got the schedule from Russo and she said she had no knowledge.

Koblentz testified as to what he considered to be "ex parte" communications -- communications between a judge and only one of the parties in a criminal or civil case.

Seibert's testimony and cross-examination lasted about eight minutes and Koblentz was on the stand about 25 minutes. Then the defense rested its case. 

Russo, 61, and Dimora, 56, were the prime targets of FBI and IRS agents in the widespread Cuyahoga County corruption probe that went public July 28, 2008.

Just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, federal prosecutors rested their case against McCafferty. Defense attorney Michael Murray briefly called two witnesses at the end of the day Wednesday -- Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Eileen T. Gallagher and former County Auditor Frank Russo's top aide Destin Ramsey.

Both testified about 10 minutes each about how campaign volunteers were recruited and worked judicial campaigns in 2004, the year Gallagher and McCafferty both ran.

The two cases where McCafferty is alleged to have lied to the FBI involved Dimora's friend, Steve Pumper, and Russo's auditor's offfice employee Anthony Debaltzo.

The two FBI special agents who interviewed McCafferty on Sept. 23, 2008 at her Westlake home, said she became a 'roadblock' to getting more evidence against Dimora and Russo when she did not cooperate with federal authorities.

FBI Special Agent Gregory Curtis said he told McCafferty that the FBI was "building a case against Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo that would involve (racketeering) charges and it's likely you could be involved in it."

Curtis said he was trying to gain McCafferty's cooperation in the corruption case but Curtis said she denied any involvement.

"I believe she lied to me when she denied that she tried to sway the cases," Curtis said, referring to the two cases in her courtroom.

Dimora has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in September and has maintained his innocence since his arrest. Russo pleaded guilty to 21 counts and was senetenced to 22 years in prison.

Russo is cooperating with federal authorities and gave testimony in McCafferty's trial on Tuesday.


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