AKRON, Ohio—The second day of the Jimmy Dimora federal corruption trial focused on jury selection. That process is expected to wrap up by week's end with opening statements beginning as early as Monday.
The embattled former Cuyahoga County commissioner said nothing as he made his way into the federal courthouse in Akron on Thursday morning. Co-defendant Michael Gabor also did not talk.
Dimora, who was once the county's Democratic party chairman, faces a series of corruption charges that allege he took bribes in exchange for steering public contracts.
Gabor, a former auditor's office employee, was charged along with Dimora in a 139-page federal indictment back in September of 2010. He is charged with corruption-related crimes that also include accepting bribes.
Fox 8's Dave Nethers reports that 12 jurors and six alternates will be seated. Attorneys for both defendants are using a jury consultant.
U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi continued to individually poll prospective jurors. Another 51 were called into the courtroom Thursday morning. Of those, only 10 said they had never heard of the case.
A pregnant woman and another woman who claimed to know individuals involved in the case were among three who were released.
On both days, each panel of jurors was shown a list of 139 potential witnesses and asked if they knew any of them. The list includes Broadview Heights Mayor Sam Alai, Judge James Celebrezze, Joseph Gallucci, Harlan Diamond, J. Kevin Kelley, Judge Nancy McDonnell, county Board of Elections Executive Director Jane Platten, former D-A-S Construction Co. President Steve Pumper, Charles Randazzo, former county Auditor Frank Russo, Robert Rybak and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.
The panels were also shown a separate list of names that could come up during the trial and asked if they knew any of those people. That list of 71 names includes Anthony Calabrese, Michael Calabrese, former county Commissioner Tim Hagan, former Doan Pyramid President Michael Forlani, county Executive Ed FitzGerald, Judge Bridget McCafferty, former county Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, county Prosecutor William Mason, former county Deputy Auditor Samir Mohammad, William Neiheiser, Joseph O'Malley, former county Sheriff Gerald McFaul, Vincent Russo, Judge Steven Terry, Lee Trotter and Paul Voinovich.
Seven-hundred questionnaires were sent to prospective jurors. Of those, 300 were selected to comprise the pool of potential jurors. Federal prosecutors tell Fox 8 News they are not sure when the judge will start seating the jury from the pool of candidates.
Only seven of the potential jurors who were individually questioned on Wednesday had not heard of the case. At least three of them said they had formed an opinion about Dimora that would not change.
Because the trial is expected to last as much as three months, at least one of the potential jurors had written on his/her questionnaire that the time away from work might be a problem for his/her employer.
In the second group of potential jurors questioned on Wednesday, as many as three failed to show up and did not answer their phones.
Two motions were filed late Wednesday by Bill Whittaker, the attorney for Dimora. One was filed with the Court of Appeals in Cincinnati asking for a stay based on double jeopardy since Dimora faces prosecution in two trials -- one with Gabor and a second one with co-defendant Forlani.
Lioi has already ruled that there could not be double jeopardy since the other trial has not yet taken place. It was scheduled to begin in December, but was postponed.
Attorneys for Dimora had earlier requested a change of venue based on extensive media coverage. That request was denied by Lioi. She said that although coverage had not been flattering to Dimora, it was mostly fair and accurate.
Stick with Fox 8 News and FOX8.com for Jimmy Dimora corruption trial updates.
(Fox 8 News reporter Dave Nethers contributed to this report.)