Valdis Krebs has ladled on tangible proof of two facts in the Cuyahoga corruption scandal that heretofore were only assumed based on anecdotal evidence:
1) Frank Russo was way more powerful than Jimmy “This Guy” Dimora, and ...
2) In the canon of criminals, this was a pretty amateurish bunch.
Krebs is the owner and chief researcher for OrgNet.com, a consulting company that maps organizational networks. IBM, Google, and others have asked him to examine their work. He’s mapped the mortgage crisis, Twitter connections, and L.A. slumlords, teasing out hidden relationships and chains of power in every network. Given that OrgNet’s office is in Cleveland, Krebs is well-versed in our ongoing festival of corruption. Recently, he mapped the back-slapping, palm-greasing Cuyahoga Corruption All Stars to see what he could find.
“We can reveal good intentions, as in work getting done, and bad intentions, like corruption and money laundering,” he says. “The big difference is, in a good network, they don’t mind being exposed. In a corrupt network, they’re trying to hide.
“It’s interesting in this case: They didn’t do a very good job of hiding. They did use some intermediaries to pass money around, but it wasn’t as well done as it could have been. Either they were very amateur or they were really arrogant, because they wouldn’t have had to do much to hide it better.”
Students of history know it was probably a mix of both: Bumbling idiocy and overarching hubris.
Krebs’ data analysis and mapping also backs up what Cleveland learned when the FBI unleashed its indictments: That Dimora needed endless phone calls to make one small move, whereas Russo could say a word and his request would be granted by the Corruption Fairy.
“It’s always interesting to look for who’s the real leader in a group,” Krebs says. “What I took away from this was Russo was the real connector, if you will.
“While Dimora was probably the more active player, with more things in the air, Russo had a higher score in two network metrics. Those that have higher power in those metrics have a better ability to act and get things done.”
Based on his findings, Krebs thinks Russo should get a longer prison sentence than Dimora. Of course, that’s probably not going to be the case, since Russo has one connection in his network that Dimora does not: the Feds.