Prosecutors argue Dimora’s actions clearly still corrupt

(Jimmy Dimora mug shot taken 8/21/2013; Cuyahoga County Jail)

CLEVELAND – Federal prosecutors say former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora should stay in prison for his entire sentence – arguing that his crimes fit well within a new definition of corruption set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As the FOX 8 I-Team has reported, the high court narrowed the definition of corruption by ruling in another case that a public official must perform an “official act” – and receive something in exchange for it – in order to be convicted of accepting a bribe. One example might be voting a certain way in exchange for cash.

In seeking a new trial, Dimora’s appeals attorneys have said that the government told the jurors that they should convict Dimora because of behavior – such as accepting certain items – that does not fall within the scope of performing an “official act” as now defined by the Supreme Court.

Ten years ago, the FOX 8 I-Team broke the story of a federal corruption investigation into Cuyahoga County government. More then fifty people were convicted in the investigation.

One of the last people convicted was the biggest target of the probe – Dimora, a once powerful county commissioner who argued that what he had accepted were gifts, not bribes.

Five years ago, Dimora was convicted on more then 30 corruption-related charges. Judge Sara Lioi sentenced him to more then 28 years in prison.

Dimora continues to maintain his innocence, as he did in a phone interview with the I-Team from prison less then three years ago.

In a 129-page reply brief filed on Monday, prosecutors lay out their arguments for why they believe Dimora’s convictions were just and proper.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Rowland, the senior prosecutor during the Dimora trial, argues in the brief that Dimora directly benefited from “this-for-that arrangements (that) were more then kindly gestures, more then mere “pleases” and “thank yous,” among friends.”

Rowland describes “expensive trips to Las Vegas in exchange for county patronage, thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for government jobs, extensive home improvements to the tune of $30,000 in exchange for public construction contracts….” as some of what Dimora received.
She then lays out what the government sees as the “official acts” that Dimora performed in exchange for what he received.

So, if the jury would have been instructed under the Supreme Court’s new standard, Rowland writes, “the outcome would have been the same.”

Regarding the Vegas trip, Rowland says that Dimora’s expenses were all paid by a contractor, and included “a hotel room, meals, $6,000 in cash for gambling, privileges at the Bare pool and services of a prostitute.”

In an interview with the I-Team before his trial, Dimora said the woman gave him a massage, and he paid for it himself.

Dimora’s direct appeals are over, so Judge Lioi must decide if she will allow this “collateral” appeal to go forward.

It she does, then she must decide if Dimora’s convictions fit under the new definition of corruption or if he should be entitled to a new trial.

Meantime, Dimora continues to serve his sentence in a federal prison about two hours south of Cleveland.