Groundwork Laid For Closing Arguments in Dimora Trial
AKRON, Ohio – Defense attorneys for former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and his co-defendant Michael Gabor formally rested their cases Tuesday setting the stage for closing arguments in their federal corruption trial.
After more than six weeks of often graphic testimony from high profile witnesses jurors heard only from Judge Sara Lioi on Tuesday as she carefully gave them their final instructions about more than 30 charges against the two defendants.
Prosecutors are expected to begin their closing arguments Wednesday morning. Among the charges Dimora faces are bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud, filing false tax returns, falsifying records in a federal investigation, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Judge Lioi reminded jurors on Tuesday that they have two main duties.The first is to try and determine the facts from what they have seen and heard over the past six weeks. The second is to determine if the government has done its duty in proving their case.
“As you know each defendant has pleaded not guilty,” said Judge Lioi in her final jury instructions. “Each defendant starts the trial with a clean state and the law presumes he is innocent.”
“The Government must present evidence that overcomes the presumption. It is up to the government to prove that he is guilty and the burden stays on the government from start to finish.”
In outlying the accusations against Dimora in each of the charges Judge Lioi reminded them that he is accused of accepting cash, meals, entertainment for himself and friends, a refrigerator, a television, a discount on a Rolex watch, accommodations and gambling chips in Las Vegas and other gifts while in office.
She told the jury that it will be up to them to determine the credibility of the government’s witnesses and determine if any of them had a motive to lie.
Lioi also said for them to find Dimora guilty of a bribery charge they must be able to connect any gift or “thing of value” with an “official act.”
In explaining an “official act,” Lioi told the jury that it did not necessarily have to be a vote made as a commissioner.
She described an official action as, “the exercise of both formal influence such as votes, and informal, such as a public official’s influence on other public officials.”
“It is not necessary for the government to prove that the scheme succeeded, the intent to affect the exchange of money or thing of value in exchange for an official action,” she continued, adding “it makes no difference that the giver may have had another lawful motive, such as friendship, for giving a thing of value…”
She also explained it is not a defense to claim that the public official would have voted the same way if they had not been given a bribe.
Closing arguments are expected to extend into Thursday morning, after which the jury will start deliberating Dimora’s fate.
If he is convicted on all of the charges he could face a possible sentence of 60-years in federal prison.