Dimora’s Defense: Alcoholism Makes Witness Unreliable

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A key witness wrapped up his testimony Thursday in the federal government's corruption case against former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and co-defendant Michael Gabor, but not before being grilled during cross-examination on the witness stand.

Steve Pumper, former president of DAS Construction, admitted under cross-examination by Gabor's attorney that he was an alcoholic.

Pumper said he was drinking at the time he was having countless conversations with federal agents regarding illegal activities he said involved Dimora and other members of the "A" team, a group of men close to the former commissioner and then county auditor Frank Russo.

"When did you stop drinking?" asked attorney, Leif Christman.

"I didn't stop drinking, I'm still drinking now,” said Pumper.

He did not deny that he tried to mislead the FBI and his own colleagues at DAS, some of whom were family members, after they learned he'd been approached by federal agents for bribing a Cleveland building inspector.

Pumper testified that he told everyone who knew about the bribe that the money was a loan to the building inspector.

He testified that he created a phony financial sheet to reflect payments and that he tried to destroy records by throwing a computer into Lake Erie; another computer was pitched into a dumpster.  Pumper also said he shredded documents related to work done on Dimora's home.

Christman tried to discredit the information Pumper gave to federal agents early on in the investigation by suggesting Pumper's alcoholism made his recollections unreliable.

"And this is a time when you're trying to remember specific details as to what your activities were?" asked Christman.

"Yes," replied Pumper.

Gabor's attorney also challenged Pumper's claim that he offered Gabor a job at a Pumper owned company called Green-Source, with the understanding that Dimora would receive 20% to 25% of Gabor's $80,000 salary; a percentage that Gabor would pay from his end of the deal.

Christman wanted Pumper to admit there was no written agreement in Gabor's contract related to Dimora's alleged cut of the salary but Pumper insisted it was a verbal agreement.

"I said the agreement was that Dimora would get 20% to 25% off what commissions Mr. Gabor would receive," said Pumper.

Gabor is accused of bribery and conspiracy. Dimora is facing several charges including bribery. Both men maintain they are innocent.

Pumper has acknowledged he could receive a reduced sentence if he cooperates fully with federal authorities.