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Jimmy Dimora battling severe health issues on 10th anniversary of conviction while judge delays ruling nearly a year

The former county commissioner won a partial appeal in 2020, but remains imprisoned on the 10th anniversary of conviction, while cohort Frank Russo lives in suburbs.

AKRON, Ohio — The news broke 10 years ago Wednesday and Jimmy Dimora has been in a downward spiral ever since.

The former Cuyahoga County commissioner and grandiose political power broker was convicted of 33 counts involving racketeering and bribery. He was immediately taken into custody and has remained imprisoned ever since.

He was sentenced to one of the nation's longest prison terms ever given in a political corruption case: 28 years.

Years of failed appeals followed until he received a partial win in August 2020 with a 2-1 decision in the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court sent 17 of his 33 criminal counts back to trial Judge Sara Lioi.

In a scathing dissent, Judge Gilbert Stroud Merritt Jr. wrote he would have overturned all of Dimora's convictions and ordered he be given a new trial.

“...there is no question [Lioi] erroneously instructed the jury in light of” a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision,” Merritt wrote.

He said a new trial is more proper, given the volume of evidence and passage of time.

“That is why I would vacate all of Dimora’s convictions in this appeal and remand for a new trial, because the only proper fact-finding body for these issues is a properly instructed jury that considers Dimora’s ethics reports---not appellate judges and not a district court reviewing 30,000 page records of a 37-day trial it heard eight years ago.”

Dimora's attorneys argued in his appeal that errors in how the jury instructions written by Lioi led to his wrongful conviction. They also cited her denial to allow Dimora’s attorney from using his ethics reports, in which he reported gifts received while in office, as a defense.

Despite the appellate decision, Dimora’s motion for resentencing has sat untouched by Judge Lioi for nearly a year. 

Federal prosecutors declined comment Wednesday. A message left with Dimora’s lead attorney, David Mills, was not immediately returned.

Meanwhile, Dimora’s health has continued to deteriorate. Already medically obese and now 66 years old, he contracted COVID-19 while serving his sentence at Elkton Federal Correctional Institution, one of the nation’s hardest hit prisons during the pandemic.

Today, a decade after his conviction, Dimora is now being held in a medical unit in Devens Federal Medical Prison near Boston while dealing with heart-related issues.

Of over the 70 people targeted in the wide-ranging federal investigation, Dimora is the only one remaining behind bars.

His long-time political ally, former county Auditor Frank Russo, took a deal with prosecutors that gave him a reduced 14-year sentence.

In May 2020, Russo, then 70, was quietly released from prison by the warden during the onset of the pandemic, four years before his scheduled release. He is living in a home in Willoughby Hills.

Russo still owes over $6.9 million in restitution.

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