Key Witness Testifies Against Dimora


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AKRON, Ohio-A key witness in federal prosecutors’ case against former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora took to the witness stand this morning and described alleged payments, gifts and favors given to Dimora while he held public office.

Fox 8 News’ Dave Nethers reports that Ferris Kleem, the owner of Blaze Construction and Phoenix Cement, was questioned by Assistant U.S. Prosecuting Attorney Ann Rowland.

Kleem had previously pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery back in 2010.

Kleem testified that he first met Dimora when the former commissioner was the mayor of Bedford. Over time the two men began interacting publicly quite often, according to Kleem.

Kleem said in testimony that he gained Dimora’s trust after allegedly pointing out that a relationship between Dimora and two businessmen could hurt Dimora’s reputation politically.

”He trusted me ever since then and thought that I was very credible,” Kleem testified.

To which prosecutor Rowland asked, “Did you start giving things to Mr. Dimora?”

Kleem responded, “Yes.”

Rowland then said, “Would you describe to us the things you would give to Mr. Dimora through 2008.”

Kleem then testified, “There was some television sets, a refrigerator, a Rolex watch and I always contributed to the Democratic party and a booster.”

On Tuesday Nethers’ reported that prosecutors showed jurors evidence of an $1,100 side-by-side Whirlpool refrigerator being delivered to Dimora’s Forestwood Drive home in Independence. Prosecutors say Dimora never paid for the appliance. In addition to the refrigerator, jurors also heard a phone call from Kleem to Lori Dimora, the former commissioner’s wife, arranging for a date and time that a flat screen TV could be delivered to Dimora’s home.

Nethers’ reports that Rowland asked Kleem about a possible payment for the refrigerator.

“Not at first, but later we did,” said Kleem. Adding that he helped pick it out, ”As per Mr. Dimora’s instructions.”

Rowland then asked, ”You mentioned that you later had a conversation with Mr. Dimora regarding payment for this refrigerator?”

Kleem responded, ”I felt like I was being exposed a little too much and I wanted to have a paper trail. So I gave Mr. Dimora the cash for the refrigerator, and asked him not to deposit it all at one time and to write a check.”

Kleem then testified that he sent Dimora an invoice for the refrigerator, but Dimora never paid the bill.

”So he got the refrigerator and the cash?” asked Rowland.

“Yes,” said Kleem.

”Did you press Mr. Dimora for payment on the invoice?” asked Rowland.

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