AKRON -- Jimmy Dimora's closest political ally and best friend Frank Russo takes the stand as a prosecution witness against Dimora.
Russo took the stand just before 9 a.m. and began detailing his times with Dimora, starting with the two men's rise to county power in 1998 when Russo was elected county auditor and Dimora was elected county commissioner.
Stay with wkyc.com and Channel 3 News for updates on his testimony throughout the day.
Russo has already pleaded guilty to 21 charges and has been sentenced to 22 years in prison. He has a plea agreement with prosecutors to testify against other defendants.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon asked Russoif he got "to know Commissioner Dimora's hobbies and interests in the years 2002 through 2008."
Russo said "Jimmy loved his back yard, that was his hobby, the love of his life, it was the number one thing in his life...."
He continued that "the second thing was fine food and fine alcohol...big thick steaks, Crown Royal....and Jimmy liked cash from people....and Jimmy liked pretty girls and prostitutes."
He was asked if he ever saw Jimmy Dimora sponsor a dinner?
"No, I didn't," Russo replied.
By the year 2002, who was in the "in-crowd" group you have been describing?
"Jimmy Dimora and me, Frank Russo, J. Kevin Kelley, Rob Rybak, Steve Pumper, Mike Gabor, who arrived in the group in 2002, Michael Forlani, and Jerry Skruhovec... " Russo said.
Russo was asked that, until May 23, 2008, who served as sponsors when you and Commissioner Dimora were out to dinner?
"Three or four nights a week, or sometimes lunches, we went out....and sponsors paid for them.From 2002 through May 23, 2008, Kevin Kelley, Steve Pumper, Rob Rybak and Michael Forlani were sponsors."
"I never saw Jimmy sponsor a dinner....they were almost all at very high-end exclusive restaurants."
He was asked who he saw drinking at those dinners?
He replied, "Jimmy Dimora, Mike Gabor, Kevin Kelley, Steve Pumper, Mike Forlani...."
Russo was asked what were the benefits of being a sponsor?
"They would get personal attention on anything they needed...it was theItalian heritage, you take care of me, I take care of you....sponsors get special treatment...if sponsor was a contractor, they could get help on the (commissoners') agenda..."
"Once at a dinner XO downtown in thespring of 2008....there were 8 to 10 people I didn't know....my brother was having a fundraiser across the street,...so myself, Michale Calabrese and Jerry Springer and Rosemary Vinci walked across the street to XO...then Jimmy and Michael Gabor showed up...the drinks were flowing... "