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Jimmy Dimora sentenced to 28 years

1:13 PM, Jul 31, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi sentences Jimmy Dimora to 28 years with three years probation.

1:59 p.m.: Lioi sentences Dimora to a term of 336 months..(28 years) with 3 years probation afterwards.

Vote: What do you think of Dimora's sentence?

1:58 p.m.:  Lioi said "...in the world of Cuyahoga County corruption....Mr Russo and Mr Dimora had a symbiotic relationship...."
"...to be sure, they always didn't share their spoils with each other....when you are dealing with corrupt people, you can't expect them to always share what they got..."
"in the end, people who have been found or pled guilty...show the breadth and depth of the corruption....more than 60 people have been involved..."

Expanded coverage: Jimmy Dimora corruption trial

Lioi says she finds his health can be addressed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

1:49 p.m.: Lioi: ".somewhere along the way, his course of serving the people changed to his serving himself and his friends...Frank Russo, along with Jimmy Dimora, created a way of doing business with the county..."
"...in many ways , Mr Russo was more obvious with what he was doing...in contrast, Mr. Dimora's way was more insidious..."

1:40 p.m.:  Judge Lioi reading her sentence of Jimmy Dimora.

1:39 p.m.: Dimora said: "I believe I am one of the most diligent public officials in Ohio and reported this on my ethics report so everyone could see who I was talking to...that's why I have so many people on my ethics report...I provided an accurate and extensive list of anyone who gave me something of value...people had the ability to check and see who I was doing business with...at no time did I perform an official act in exchange or return for someone who gave me something of value...while some of my friends did not bill me for full price for things for my home, they never asked me for anything in return...they only got county work if they were the low bidder and recommended by the county staff....'
"In closing...it was an honor for me to serve the residents of Bedford Heights and Cuyahoga County...I know the government spent a liot of money on this...I believe they created a mountain out of a molehill...I hope, your honor, you would not separate me from my family...(Dimora breaks down in tears, crying) my wife, I give her great credit for raisinfg three great kids...

1:33 p.m.  Dimora: "There are several recorded phone calls that you hear me say that if you are the lowest bidder, I will support you for the contract..."
"I never pressured anyone...the county has never lost any money in anything that I have done....I have no regret for anything I have done...these contracts had been vetted over and over....the contracts were all deemed and determined to all be compliant by others..."
"As a public servant, my job was always to provide help and assistance..." ((Dimora began to get choked up as he reads this part)
"My job was to cut through the bureacracy to help people to get their issue or problem resolved...that was my job..."

1:27 p.m.: Dimora: "...there was a great deal of testimony about county officials who had sold jobs, taken bribes...I want to emphatically deny that I had any involvement in that type of illegal activity...it was not displayed, it was hidden...I would have reported it...I emphatically deny my involvement of selling contracts, bribes, illegal activity..."
"I have also always ...followed the staff and voted for the lowest and best bidder in all county contracts..."
"..I am not apologizing for my vote in support of the staff's recommendation to approve the Oppmann garage purchase..."

1:23 p.m.: Dimora: "...Thought it was my job to help constituents....trying to help students with enrollment in higher education....trying to help individuals get into the military...I have literally written thousands of letters for my constituents"
(Dimora is speaking in a level tone, reading from a piece of paper....with his glasses on....

1:19 p.m.: USA Bacon says there were many factual errors in Andrea Whitaker's presentation but the government will not comment on then and ask the court to impose the maximum sentence.

Lioi asked if Dimora wanted to address the court...he is addressing the court

1:18 p.m.: Andrea Whitaker said that there are 40 identified cases for county corruption defendants "...and Mr. Dimora didn't have anything to do with most of those cases...he is only mentioned in 14 of them...."
Whitaker says Russo told a friend "....to lie and say that a $10,000 bribe was actually a donation...."
Dimora is now conferring with attorney Bill Whitaker as Andrea Whitaker continues her listing of why Dimora should not be sentenced too severely...
"...a sentence of this sort....should be less than what the government has advocated..."

1:10 p.m.: Whitaker is now talking about "...a terrorist that was given a sentence the same as the government is asking for Mr. Dimora...
..a rapist only served eight years....."...Attorney Bacon spent a great deal of time on talking about other defendants who did not go to trial...but Mr. Dimora chose to exercise his constitutional right..."

1:05 p.m.: Whitaker quotes the letter, saying "my father is my real-life role model..."
Whitaker is now reading off the list of all of awards he received as a public, elected official....
...Whitaker is now talking about Dimora's "history of 30 years of public service, 30 years of devotion to his family..."

12:58 p.m.: Attorney Bill Whitaker just passed a piece of paper across the defense table to Dimora and indicated a passage....and now Dimora is writing on that paper....

12:55 p.m.: Whitaker is talking about Lori Dimora's letter, and Jimmy Dimora is now visibly crying and wiping his tears with a tissue repeatedly....he just pulled down the sleeve of his white, long-sleeved shirt under his orange top......
Whitaker is now reading from his mother-in-law's letter in support of Dimora.....

12:47 p.m.: Dimora just wiped his tears with a tissue, then took a sip of water, and is now dabbing his eyes with another tissue....he continues to cry.....and he has now put his glasses back on.....Whitaker continues to read excerpts from several letters.....and now he has taken a second sip of water....

12:45 p.m.: Dimora's attorney Andrea Whitaker says the letters give a full picture of what his career was all about.
Dimora is now crying as Whitaker talks about the letters from his children...

12:43 p.m.: Whitaker still addressing court. "...Mr. Dimora was not trying to hide relationships...that was what men like Kevin Kelley were doing...Mr. Dimora has no criminal record....unlike Mr. Russo, who has a conviction for dereliction of duty..."
Whitaker is now quoting from several letters in support of Dimora that the judge should consider Dimora's entire 30-year political career, not just a part of it...

12:40 p.m.: Defense attorney Andrea Whitaker is now speaking. "...this is not a theft case, not a case about the county losing money..."
"...Mr. Dimora's role has been defined...Russo's case, the MetroHealth defendants who were just handing out contracts...those are not what Mr. Dimora did..."
While Whitaker is speaking, Dimora is looking down at the table with his arms crossed in front of him and also reading what is on his computer monitor

12:37 p.m.: Antoinette Bacon said "Dimora was not deterred" when Nate Gray received his sentence of 15 years in 2002 for being a bagman

"...(Frank) Russo and Jimmy Dimora were at the top of the pyramid of this corruption...." It would not be a disparity to have Dimora sentenced to more than the 21 years that Russo got...the only difference between them was that they took two separate paths....Russo pleaded guilty and Dimora did not..."
"Judge Steve Terry got 63 months for fixing one case and perjuring himself....Dimora tried to fix eight cases"
"Robert Rybak received a sentence of 27 months for doing one project at Dimora's house and one obstruction charge..."
"This is a landmark case and the government would ask for a landmark sentence"

12:33 p.m.:  USA Antoinette Bacon tells the court that the defense cited all the awards Dimora received over the year were for his office, not for him personally. Dimora spent "very, very little of his own money on charities himself..."
"When you scratch the surface of his work....you see he placed himself and his needs before those of others..."

12:29 p.m.: Judge Lioi has asked the prosecution if they wish to speak, and USA Antoinette Bacon is speaking to the sentence..."There were over 18 schemes, over 100 bribes and his conduct spanned 10 years..."
Bacon quoted former Shaker Hts Mayor Judy Rawson who said the person that helped pass Cuyahoga County reform was Jimmy Dimora.

12:26 p.m.: Judge Lioi back on the bench.

12:08 p.m: Still awaiting return of Judge Lioi to the courtroom following break.

11:52 a.m.  The courtroom is beginning to fill back up. Almost everyone except the judge is in the room now.

11:31 a.m. After all she has considered with arguments and rebuttals from both sides, Lioi says the federal sentencing guidelines will have her eventual sentence fall somewhere between 24 and 30 years in prison for Dimora.

11:12 a.m. Lioi asked both sides how they are proceeding.  Lioi called a 30-minute break in lieu of lunch.

11:09 a.m. The courtroom is completely silent as Lioi reiterates her desire not to understate the amount of the loss to the county. 

11:05 a.m.  Lioi says, after hearing arguments in this case, the case does not "warrant a downward departure in the sentence" from the original pre-sentence report, meaning the request for the lowered sentencing from Dimora's attorneys will not be applied.

10:58 a.m. Lioi says there "were a lot of winks and a lot of nods in this case" in response to Andrea Whitaker picking out one phone conversation where the conspiracy wasn't mentioned and Lioi interrupted, saying "you can't just pick out one conversation that didn't talk about it" as there were many, many others that did.

10:53 a.m. Bacon said all this has shown a lack of confidence in our government, so much so that the form of government changed for the county by voters in 2010. Bacon said others got jobs when others did not.

10:47 a.m. Attorney Andrea Whitaker spoke on reducing his sentence because the loss was not as egregious as has been portrayed. U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon stood in rebuttal, saying that Dimora was well aware of the money to be made and what the county was to award when the contracts were in the millions and millions of dollars.

Bacon said convicted corruption defendant Michael Gabor spent much of his county-paid time driving Dimora, that others received jobs that they were overpaid for.

10:31 a.m. Lioi said that age does have some relevance in the sentencing guidelines as it applies to this case.

Lioi says the court doesn't consider 57 to be "elderly" and there is nothing "so extraordinary" about the defendant's health conditions that would allow a downward direction in the sentencing. She said they are not unusual or severe that he cannot get treatment in prison.

10:29 a.m. Dimora's attorney Andrea Whitaker said that Dimora does not have to be near death to get a break in sentencing according to the sentencing guidelines. She said most people in prison today are in their 20s and 30s, not 57 like Dimora is.

10:24 a.m. There is nothing that differentiates Dimora from some of the other defendants, U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon said. That his age and his illnesses are nothing more than what others had and that he committed those crimes with full knowledge of his own age and his existing health conditions.

Dimora's wife Lori is glaring at Bacon as she talks about Dimora's health and age.

10:10 a.m. Lioi said she will enforce and adhere to the agreed-upon forfeiture agreement that was reached previously in court some time ago.

That requires Dimora to relinquish 50 percent of his interest in the Forestwood Drive home; his Ohio Public Employees Retirement System account for the time he was Cuyahoga County Commissioner from 1999-2010 for a total of $122,383.46; a flat screen TV seized from his home; a GPS map that was framed and also seized; an icemaker from his outdoor patio; and the Beanie Wells jersey that was seized. 

10:09 a.m. Lioi says that the tax loss from Dimora's filing false tax returns and the guidelines set forth by the government is correct and overrules Dimora's objections.

10:06 a.m. Lioi is entertaining the objections that were raised Monday by Dimora's other attorney Andrea Whitaker.

10:05 a.m. Lioi said there is no room for debate or doubt that the four-level enhancement (for a higher sentence) does apply.

10:01 a.m. Lioi rules that Dimora easily qualifies as a leader and does deserve the four-level increase for sentencing.

Most significant, she said, was the "culture" the county leaders like Dimora, Russo, Kelley allowed, and that's the way business was run. "While they each had their own styles...Russo mostly wanted cash, Dimora wanted mostly meals, household improvements and sex...no matter, they all wanted something" and they got it....

9:51 a.m. U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon is rebutting Whitaker's claims, saying that everone knew that Dimora was "driving the train."

While Bacon is speaking, Dimora's wife Lori is staring directly at Bacon with an unhappy look on her face.

9:45 a.m. Whitaker continues to submit that Dimora was a minor player in all of the schemes. Judge Lioi interrupts Whitaker and asks why did Dimora accept all these gifts ? Whitaker says Dimora accepted the gifts but not because he was running the schemes.

Lioi wanted to know why all these "things of value" were coming Dimora's way? Lioi said that, if all these people were Dimora's friends, why didn't Dimora recuse himself from votes about contarcts to his "friends"? 

9:34 a.m. Dimora's attorney Bill Whitaker said Frank Russo was the one who benefited most from the schemes and that Dimora had no control nor input into the kickbacks from schemes for coiunty contracts or county jobs.

9:32 a.m. Dimora's attorney Bill Whitaker is making a case that Dimora was not one of the ringleaders in the Cuyahoga County corruption schemes, that the ringleaders were Frank Russo, J. Kevin Kelley, Daniel Gallagher. Whitaker is attempting to reduce the number of years Lioi can sentence Dimora. 

9:22 a.m. U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi has convened the hearing. She began by recapping what was determined at Monday's forfeiture hearing.

9:18 a.m. To recap Monday's forefeiture hearing, Judge Sara Lioi determined that Dimora would likely owe just over $451,000, far below the original nearly $3 million the government estimated.

When applied to formulas used in federal sentencing guidelines, the new figures could reduce his time behind bars by several years.

9:11 a.m. Security guards in the hallway are saying some witnesses are on thier way up to the courtroom.

9:07 a.m. U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi has yet to enter the ciourtroom. Attorneys for both sides, defendant Dimora, Dimora's family and friends are in the courtroom.

8:52 a.m. Dimora's attorney Bill Whitaker tells WKYC that his client "will have something to say today."

8:06 a.m. Tuesday, Dimora was brought into the federal courthouse through the secure basement entrance. As he was on Monday, he was wheeled in sitting in a wheelchair and U.S. Marshals also carried his walker.

Dimora was dressed in a two-piece, orange prison outfit with a white undershirt. Tuesday he was wearing dark blue Crocs for shoes and had elastic bandages wrapped around his ankles.

Original post: The sentence, which was expected to be handed down Monday, did not take place as prosecutors and defense attorneys spent the entire day wrangling over the dollar amount for Dimora's restitution.

Dimora, 57, of Independence, was convicted March 9 on 32 of 34 counts, including bribery, racketeering and conspiracy. Prosecutors want Lioi to sentence Dimora to more than 22 years in prison, while defense attorneys are looking for a lesser sentence.

The U.S. Probation Service, according to Dimora's attorneys, recommended life in prison.

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