Dimora Trial Could be Wrapping up Soon

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AKRON, Ohio --

After weeks of often graphic prosecution testimony featuring high profile witnesses and profanity-laden, wiretapped telephone conversations, the defense case for former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora has become far less dramatic.

Jurors have heard from only seven defense witnesses in the past three days of Dimora's federal corruption trial.

Financial Planner Joe Randazzo, earlier this week, refused to answer questions in front of a jury, telling attorneys he would plead the fifth if he was asked any substantive questions.

Another defense witness, State Ethics Commission Executive Director Paul Nick,  showed up late on Wednesday, after the jury had already been sent home for the day.

Nick showed up on time Thursday, prepared to testify, only to be released before he ever entered the courtroom.

He was expected to testify about Dimora's ethics reports. In her opening statements on January 12th, Dimora Defense Attorney Andrea Whittaker told jurors that he reported the meals, trips and other gifts in his state ethics reports.

Now, it is unclear if the jury will ever see those reports.

The first of the witnesses called Thursday was Adrian Maldonado, the county's former Director of Procurement who testified about a loan for a foot bridge at Coe Lake in Berea that government prosecutors believe was approved because of Dimora's influence.

Maldonado testified that the project followed all the proper procedures and was approved on its merits, not because of Dimora's influence.

Prosecutors believe Dimora intervened to get the project financed as a favor to Ferris Kleem who paid for a lavish trip to Las Vegas, bought Dimora a refrigerator, a television set, as well as other gifts.

Under cross examination, however, Maldonado also testified that Dimora never recused himself from voting on a project for which he is accused of having a financial interest.

Jurors also heard from Tracey Nichols, a former Economic Loan Officer for the County.  Nichols testified that it was not at all uncommon for county commissioners to call her about contractors who wanted low interest loans.

In testifying about several projects for which Steven Pumper of D-A-S Construction wanted the county's help, Nichols also said his applications followed the county's detailed application and approval process.

Nichols testified that she did not remember using the expression "The Dimora Special" when referring to the best deal the county was able to offer.

She also testified that she was unaware Pumper was doing thousands of dollars of work at Dimora's home while the former commissioner was trying to help him get county loans.

Thursday's proceedings ended early for the third day in a row.

It is unclear how many more defense witnesses remain to be called.

There are indications that the trial, which was expected to last three months, could be drawing to a close after only six weeks.

It is also unclear if Dimora himself will be called to testify in his own defense.