(WJW) — Aging and with his health deteriorating, former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora has been released from a federal prison. Dimora is serving a 23-year sentence for corruption-related charges in a pay-for-play scheme on which he was convicted in 2012.
Dimora was convicted in one of the largest corruption scandals in Ohio history. But he is not totally free. Dimora was released to home confinement, living with relatives here in Northeast Ohio, to serve out the rest of his sentence.
“They woke him up 10 or 11 at night on Tuesday and told him that he’s being released. … He had been waiting for a decision like that to come, but he had no clue that it was gonna come when it did,” explained Phil Trexler, editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project Cleveland.
Dimora was released from Federal Medical Center Devens in Massachusetts on Wednesday after spending nearly 12 years behind bars. Originally sentenced to 28 years behind bars, Dimora was re-sentenced to 23 years last year.
On Friday, the FOX 8 I-Team learned he was transferred to community confinement, specifically, a residential re-entry management program overseen by a bureau office based in Cincinnati, according to information from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In 2012, a jury found him guilty of 33 counts, including racketeering, bribery, conspiracy and tax charges.
“They rustled him out of bed and took him, transported him to Ohio and then processed him out. … He was surprised, relieved,” said Trexler.
Trexler is editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project Cleveland, a non-profit news organization focused on pointing out systemic problems in the criminal justice system. Over the years, Trexler gained a rapport with Dimora — who will be 68 in several weeks — even visiting him in prison.
He said Dimora’s family described his current health condition.
“He went to prison weighing 400 pounds, he’s since lost 100 pounds. … He had a stroke, he had COVID, he has diabetes; he has all the health ailments associated with obesity,” said Trexler.
Dimora’s lawyers tried to get him released during the height of the pandemic because of his health, but a federal judge denied his request. Wednesday, he was released under the CARES Act, which was created during the pandemic, but is set to expire now that the COVID emergency is officially over.
“It targeted older, health-challenged inmates in the federal system and it bypasses a judge. A judge has no say in this release and for Jimmy, that’s fortunate because a judge was not gonna let him out,” Trexler said.
Federal prosecutors said Dimora took more than $166,000 dollars in bribes — in cash, home improvements, services from prostitutes and trips — in exchange for steering county projects to certain contractors.
“He’s a hard guy to feel sorry for. If anybody is from Cleveland, he really is a hard guy, but most people feel sorry for him because 12 years is certainly a long sentence for someone in his position,” said Trexler.
Dimora’s family tells Trexler that since Dimora cannot run for political office again, he may become an advocate for how federal inmates and their families are treated, as well as enjoy spending time with his family.
He will be released from federal custody on Nov. 7, 2030.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Cleveland declined to comment to FOX 8 News.