The noose must feel pretty tight now around Commissioner of Controversy Jimmy Dimora’s already-strained neck, now that another one of his “friends” from the “Group” has been indicted for giving Dimora and others a whole lot of freebies in exchange for much bigger contracts. It has to be getting pretty hard to just write all this off as a Republican ploy for county reform, especially with Group membership so anemic.
Feds alleged on Wednesday that they caught Steven Wayne Pumper, former chief exec at D-A-S Construction, bribing an already indicted building inspector (who’s pleaded guilty already to another series of bribes), and that Pumper then implicated Dimora and County Auditor Frankie Russo as being Top Dogs of this, among many, schemes. It apparently didn’t take much coaxing.
Investigators actually allege that Pumper did pretty much anything he could think of, shy of sexual favors (we hope), to land a lot of big deals, with building inspectors, county leaders, as well as in some school districts. They counted $33,000 in cash and about $45,000 in home remodeling work allegedly requested by Dimora, as well as the promise of a cush consultancy at the end of Dimora’s political line. It is one of several money-raising ruses Dimora seemingly is on the brink of being charged with orchestrating. According to the indictment, Dimora used some of his money as bait to help Pumper get a favorable divorce settlement and to woo county judge Bridget McCafferty for a favorable settlement in a case against his work on Cleveland Browns Stadium.
You want some water, Jimmy? You don’t look too good.
During a recent conversation, just before Scene published a story about the sordid predicament he’s in, Commissioner of Controversy Jimmy Dimora chuckled like a mall Santa when asked if his heart was hanging in there.
“It’s doing just fine,” he giggled, before launching into his best defense for the web of corruption that federal prosecutors are alleging he’s at the center of. And they’ve got all this wiretapping stuff these days that has to be pretty convincing in court, unless they’re trying R. Kelly in there that day.
Commissioner Tim Hagan said pretty much the same thing to Scene after we wrote about his troubles — and he’s had some recent stint surgeries. So we think this kind of talk is becoming overrated.
Take, for example, one of the conversations revealed in the last round of indictments between Dimora and one of his alleged bagmen, former county IT nerd J. Kevin Kelley, who’s also Parma’s former school board czar and captain of contracts. Unless that’s somebody standing in for Dimora and he can prove it, it’s pretty damning stuff.
And then this latest stuff. Damn.
Feds describe how they watched as Pumper and Dimora worked to cover up the muck — exchanging a little money for way-late invoices — as soon as feds knocked on Pumper’s door. Later, Pumper apparently told them about how he drove to a Dumpster and the lake to dispose of computer records. This is just one of the humdingers they’ve got on tape, Dimora to a friend of Pumper’s: “You know, I don't want to have nothing hanging out there that could come back to hurt him or me, you know what I mean? I just want to cover all the bases so [the Pumper] don’t have a problem, and I don’t have a problem.”
They work things out, exchange the necessary materials, then Kelley is heard asking Pumper in yet another damning call: “How is everything going with you?” Pumper: “I take care of my friends. I look out for you guys, you bastards.” Kelley: “I mean… Everything okay? Is it all fixed? Everything, you know?” Pumper: “I think … So far … I mean … Yeah, I should be okay.”
Notice: He didn’t say Jimmy would be okay. You can almost hear the nails being hammered into the big man’s coffin. Kelley and Pumper and others have told their attorneys to tell the public that they’re cooperating with investigators. But who’s cooperating with Jimmy and Frankie anymore?
Here’s Pumper’s official boo-hoo to the world for having been caught: “I accept full and sole responsibility for my actions, and I apologize to my business associates and former employees, to my friends, and most especially to the members of my family for the pain and embarrassment I have caused them. I am truly and deeply sorry for having disappointed them and for subjecting them to unwarranted scrutiny and suspicion. I cannot change the things that I've done or undo the mistakes I’ve made, but I’m willing to accept personal accountability for those actions to accept the consequences. I hope that those who have known me all these years will accept my apology and find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
It appears the feds are ready for gauntlet — er, trial — already. It’s just a matter of typing up all this paperwork. — Dan Harkins