United States District Court, N. Ohio, Eastern Division. Attorney s appearing for the Case James C. Dimora, Defendant, represented by Andrea L.
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Gomez, cleveland. Ever since that day, Dimora, 55, and his closest friends and political allies -- some innocent, others not -- lived under intense scrutiny.
Within a year, Dimora was pushed to the sidelines of the Democratic Party he had led for 16 years. He defiantly refused to resign as a county commissioner and challenged prosecutors to charge him or leave him and his family alone.
Early this morning, they opted for the former. Agents arrested Dimora at his Independence home and led him out in handcuffs and chains. But, unquestionably, the events of the past two years diminish his legacy as one of the greatest political talents Greater Cleveland has ever seen. New leaders will be elected this fall.
Replacing Dimora, if he finishes his term, as well as the two other commissioners, will be a county executive with a local constituency unrivaled in terms of size. It is the type of office that Dimora, a man for whom big is too simple an adjective, might crave under different circumstances. Fueling the irony, Democrats harbor legitimate fears that he has left the party in such turmoil that a Republican or independent might win the job. If Democrats ultimately are ousted from the highest level of county government, it would represent a total unraveling of everything Dimora accomplished as a modern-day boss.
Under his chairmanship, the party embarked on more than a decade of near invincibility and a lock on all major county offices. He was often the first to send flowers when someone died. He prided himself on helping people. His backslapping built him a broad network of laborers, ward leaders and suburban politicians.
And if guilty pleas from others are to be believed, Dimora kept that coalition intact by governing in an underhanded manner.
Swap a few words in the opening sentence of a front-page Plain Dealer story from May , and it could have been written yesterday. The report also showed that Dimora failed to properly report campaign donations from city employees. The coverage came as Dimora was staging his first run for county commissioner, a race in which he would fail to escape the Democratic primary. Nonetheless, he was a man on the move. Johnson, at the time a state senator, beat Dimora and Cleveland Councilman Dan Brady in that primary.
He lost in the fall to Republican Jim Petro. He complained about unsafe conditions to then-Mayor Lucille Reed, who blew him off. In , he challenged Reed but lost a close contest. Two years later, Reed stepped aside, and Dimora beat her handpicked successor. Even then, the year-old mayor had a tough time earning respect. Council members voted to take power away from Dimora, who countered with a petition drive to reinstate his duties.
Slowly, Dimora had become an expert in suburban retail politics. He was a much better political personality than I ever was. And why not? Even with more campaign cash than his two opponents in the Democratic primary for county commissioner had combined, Dimora lost. Elders such as then-U. Louis Stokes wanted to see the title go to a black leader, and the party united behind a Cleveland councilman. The acrimony festered for years. Crashing the Democratic Party PD fileJimmy Dimora, in a file photo Intent on securing a position of status within his beloved party, Dimora ended by beating out lawyer Frederick Middleton in an intraparty battle for a seat on the Board of Elections.
A close contest -- Dimora prevailed by one vote -- exposed deep racial tensions. Because the open seat had been held by a black man, Stokes and others had favored Middleton, a black man, to fill the vacancy. The celebration was short-lived for Dimora, whose selection to the board was soon challenged by then-Ohio Secretary of State Bob Taft. The Ohio Supreme Court eventually sided with Dimora.
That changed after Dimora triumphed his way to the elections board seat. In little more than a year, he was the only nominee to replace John Coyne as chairman of the Democratic Party. As with Dimora, it is hard today to imagine such a political institution so down in the dumps. But in , the party was bleeding money and reeling from the racial battles in which Dimora starred. Unity from the East Side and the West Side, city and suburb, black and white.
On a radio show, White called the party "anti-African-American. The following year, Stokes, about to retire from Congress, tried his best to keep Dimora from winning the job his adversary long had coveted: county commissioner.
Stokes endorsed then-State Sen. So determined Stokes seemed to be to defeat Dimora, he bypassed a high-profile black candidate, Cleveland Councilman Bill Patmon.
But with strong backing from organized labor and suburban officials, Dimora upset Sweeney and easily won the general election that November.
Jones won. Dimora emerged stronger for his battles with Stokes and White. After Stokes retired and White finished a final, stormy term at City Hall, Dimora stepped into a political vacuum. Power shifted to the county commissioners. Meanwhile, Russo and Dimora were inseparable. They became political sidekicks by waging scrappy Democratic battles and held two of the most powerful jobs in county government. They roamed the fundraising circuit as a comedic duo and inspired a loyal following.
Dimora the county commissioner was a more mysterious quantity. Though commissioners oversee a billion-dollar budget largely tied up in social services, Dimora by some accounts divided his attention between big-picture construction projects and the finer details of how the county bought materials and supplies. Builders and other laborers had been kind to him, so Dimora kept an eye out for them.
Several of the deals he helped put together eventually drew the attention of federal prosecutors. In his first year on the job, Dimora eagerly discussed plans for a new convention center, an idea he and his colleagues ultimately were able to pair with plans for a medical mart -- a showroom for medical equipment. The project, which is being supported with a sales-tax increase championed by Dimora and Commissioner Tim Hagan, is expected to break ground this year.
In , Dimora ballyhooed the purchase of contaminated Cleveland land that, after a decade and millions of additional tax dollars needed for environmental cleanup, is finally set to house a new Juvenile Justice Center. He said then that the project would create jobs. The deal has always been a head-scratcher. On the day the deal was signed, Campbell, according to an audio recording of the meeting, marveled that a project in limbo for years took off after Dimora became a commissioner.
Also in , Dimora began dreaming of grand new county headquarters. Their interest is unclear, though The Plain Dealer reported last year that a lawyer and contractor accused of paying bribes in several corruption schemes also played key roles in the deal.
The deals started to haunt Dimora in early Coverage in The Plain Dealer, a newspaper that endorsed him every time he had an opponent since the November general election, began to raise questions about the Ameritrust project. And FBI agents were sniffing out much more. Dimora traveled with Russo and others to Las Vegas in April -- a trip first portrayed by Russo as a bunch of pals jetting off for a few innocent laughs.
Dimora later would characterize it as a friendly getaway to lift his spirits after the recent death of his father. Businessman Ferris Kleem pleaded guilty this year to conspiracy to commit bribery after federal prosecutors accused him of showering Dimora and Russo with cash for the Las Vegas trip in exchange for help with county contracts.
Kleem also admitted to hiring a Las Vegas prostitute for the commissioner. Dimora, who said he only received a massage, insists he paid for the trip.
Days after returning to Cleveland, he threw a memorable tantrum and ejected two Plain Dealer reporters from a public meeting. The reporters had attempted to ask him about Rosemary Vinci, a Democratic Party activist and former strip club manager who had a loosely defined position on the county payroll. Vinci told people her job was to help Dimora and Russo. Federal documents allege he knew about the investigation no later than May Months later, when agents raided the homes and offices of Dimora and Russo, they searched for photographs of Dimora and Vinci, records show.
Vinci was found dead in her Cleveland home in December The county coroner ruled a blocked coronary artery to be the cause. Dimora quickly was becoming radioactive to Democrats. Even some prominent Democrats broke with party ranks to back Sutherland. Jones won convincingly, but he probably owed it more to Barack Obama than to Dimora, whose political capital had flatlined. The following summer, Dimora turned his day-to-day party duties over to Vice Chairwoman Patricia Britt -- his polar opposite, personality-wise.
Dimora, once the boisterous voice of a powerful party, had shut down. Both, he believed, were responsible for his plight. During a rare interview in May , he complained to reporters that his two adult sons had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury.
It was then that he challenged prosecutors to charge him or leave him alone. But it became far more common for Dimora to excuse himself early from meetings and avoid the media. The corridor led to a favorite Dimora hideaway. On Monday, after he voted with his colleagues to accept the resignation of Russo, his disgraced friend and political ally, Dimora holed up there until the last reporters left.
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Jimmy Dimora's indictment caps the crumbling of his classic Democratic political machine
More Plain Inndictment coverage Dimora now being prosecuted under a law used to dismantle the Mafia Fake tree and tiki hut offered up as bribes to Russo and Dimora Jimmy Dimora at center of one of biggest local corruption cases in U. A federal grand jury charged the former county commissioner with racketeering under the same laws used to dismantle organize crime across the country. Melaragno pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday. The charges do not estimate how much he owes. His attorney, William Doyle, could not be reached for comment. And his crimes paid off, providing him with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, home improvements, sex and trips.
DIMORA INDICTMENT PDF
A federal grand jury charged the former county commissioner with racketeering under the same laws used to dismantle organize crime across the country. The new charges, which incorporate those made in a September indictment, accuse Dimora and cronies of corrupting nearly every aspect of county government. Read the full indictment online. He steered contracts, fixed court cases, hired pals and the pals of pals, meddled with public loans and manipulated property values, according to the charges. And his crimes paid off, providing him with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, home improvements, sex and trips. The racketeering charges are a first in the massive corruption investigation.
U.S. v. DIMORA
Gomez, cleveland. Ever since that day, Dimora, 55, and his closest friends and political allies -- some innocent, others not -- lived under intense scrutiny. Within a year, Dimora was pushed to the sidelines of the Democratic Party he had led for 16 years. He defiantly refused to resign as a county commissioner and challenged prosecutors to charge him or leave him and his family alone.
Dimora indicted (again) on federal racketeering, tax charges
Dimora — Third Superseding Indictment He denies wrongdoing and is expected to go to trial later this year. Jimmy Dimora was a crime boss who ran a syndicate out of the halls of county government. A federal grand jury charged the former county commissioner with racketeering under di,ora same laws used to dismantle organize crime across the country. If he did, I would say he is expletive lying. Dimora dimoar office in December, when a new charter government approved by corruption-weary voters replaced the commissioners and most other elected offices. Following his cooperation, prosecutors have brought a flurry of new charges.