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CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson has some advice for Jimmy Dimora as the former commissioner faces a long prison term.

That advice is to face reality, take things a day at a time and try to fit in.

Johnson served nine months of a 15-month sentence in a minimum security federal prison. He was convicted of shaking down inner city grocers for campaign contributions when he was a state lawmaker.

"You just become a number. You don't have a title or an office. Everything is regimented."

He predicts Dimora's outgoing personality will help him fit in with other prisoners who are expected to be white-collar, non-violent offenders in a yet-to-be-decided minimum security prison.

Johnson was assigned to scrubbing showers and bathroom fixtures for 19-cents an hour during his time in prison. He advises Dimora to accept the reality of what has happened and where he is.

"There are those who never accept it, I would hope by now he has begun to say, 'Ok, this is reality.'"

Dimora has been locked up in prison awaiting sentence.

He says Dimora will have a chance to improve his health with a no-frills prison diet and the opportunity for workouts and exercise.

"He can become a better, healthier person, said Johnson."

Johnson also said his family and faith helped him deal with his time in prison.

Johnson said Dimora or no one representing him has reached out to discuss the prison experience. Johnson openly discusses this chapter of his life to offer ex-offenders encouragement that there can be life after prison.

Johnson has had his record expunged and has his law license back. He is now a Cleveland councilman.

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