‘It Wasn’t a Party Anymore,’ Witness in Dimora Trial Says

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Federal prosecutors finished their questioning of key government witness J. Kevin Kelley Thursday afternoon, when Kelley testified "it wasn't a party anymore" once the FBI Investigaton was out in the open.

Jurors started hearing discussions that Dimora and Kelley were worried about the appearance of what they were doing when Kelley was having work done at a home on Johnson Island.

Prosecutors played a wiretapped telephone call in which Kelley seemed to be worried about reporters probing into his building permits, and Dimora was telling him his interpretation of what was legal.

"They gotta show that they got something that they shouldn't have got," Dimora told Kelley, who later said, "Frank's the one to be worried about," referring to former Auditor Frank Russo.

Kelley testified that May 6, 2008 was when they first realized the FBI was investigating county corruption, after FBI agents first approached Steven Pumper and asked for his cooperation.

He testified that when he told Dimora about it the former Commissioner instructed him to be careful talking on the phone.  He said Dimora and with whom they frequently went out to dinner and played cards were worried about Steve Pumper.  Kelley said Dimora told him to "be careful around Steve."

He testified that when he told Dimora about it the former Commissioner instructed him to be careful talking on the phone.  He said Dimora and with whom they frequently went out to dinner and played cards were worried about Steve Pumper.  Kelley said Dimora told him to "be careful around Steve."

Kelley testified that Dimora started trying to get invoices for the work that was done at his house.

Jurors heard a phone call betweek Kelley and Rob Rybak of Plumbers Local 55 in which they first joked about what they would say if investigators started questioning them.

"To the best of my recollection, I don’t recall," they joked, chuckling, then changing the tone of their conversation.

Kelley told Rybak, "Tell the truth, that's all that matters."

Jurors heard a later wiretapped phone call between Kelley and Rybak in which Rybak appeared not to want to talk with or see Kelley at all.

Kelley testified that Dimora and others did not want to talk with him anymore, concerned by Thanksgiving 2008 that he was cooperating with federal authorities.

"They were very mellow," Kelley said of everybody's change in demeanor.

He said they no longer met at their usual restaurants like Shula's 2, but at local "dives."

"It wasn't a party anymore, it was very serious," he told the jury.

Kelley pleaded guilty the following year to 11 counts in a federal 'information' against him and agreed to cooperate.

In closing the government's questioning of him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon asked on Thursday if the FBI search warrants in 2008 were not served would the things that were happening still be continuing?

Kelley answered, "It actually, in my opinion, would have gotten worse.  From the time I was involved I saw things getting bigger and bigger and more things happening than in 2003, so in my opinion it would have gotten worse, not better," he said.