Update: Jimmy Dimora was transported — lugged? carted? wheeled? shipped via UPS? — yesterday to the FCC Butner prison in North Carolina where he will serve his 28-year sentence. No Carolina BBQ is safe now.
His lawyers had requested that location because of its medical services and Dimora's slew of health issues, which may or may not have included being a very fat man who ate only pig lard for two decades. (WOIO)
Oh, and if you haven't read Jimmy's letter to his "friends" and associates asking them to contribute to his legal fund to wage an appeal, you really should.
When U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi sent Jimmy Dimora away for 28 years earlier this week after a two-day sentencing hearing, it was the final wrap on the centerpiece of the Feds’ lengthy investigation into corruption in Cuyahoga County government. Since exploding with a bang one morning in 2008, the indictments and trials were notable both for how extensive and unfettered the illegal activities were, and for how low-rent, nickel-and-dime it all seemed in the end.
Unsurprisingly, Dimora remained defiant to the bitter end.
“I have no regret or any type of reservation,” he said, reading from a prepared statement and crying just before the sentence was handed down on Tuesday. “I did what was in the best interests of Cuyahoga County residents in my mind.”
It was a familiar refrain, stretching back to the first time Dimora’s exploits were chronicled in these pages (see box, right), as he rode the handshake train from Bedford Heights to the high-rent reaches of Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chairman and County Commissioner. But as Dimora’s weight ballooned, so did the graft and corruption, leading to his inevitable downfall.
With the end in sight, Scene journeyed down I-77 to the federal courthouse in Akron on Monday to catch Jimmy’s last act.
As it turned out, very few reporters were allowed in the courtroom, which was reserved mostly for family and sketch artists. About 14 were shunted into a media room where they squinted at a low-grade video feed of the action, trying to make sense of the vague shapes and colors on the screen. (An unlucky few had to share another feed with the general public in the basement.)
Dimora was carted into the courtroom on a wheelchair, where he then switched over to a walker. The scene elicited a series of catcalls and comments from the reporters:
“Please let there be tennis balls on the walker.”
“It has wheels, why isn’t he pushing it? Why is he plopping it down?”
“He looks less gray than last time, but still big.”
“Hell, orange jumpsuits make anyone look huge.”
“Looks like he’s going with the Demjanjuk defense.”
Dimora’s lawyers had long made it known that their client was in allegedly declining health. There was a fall in prison a month back, unspecified problems that required special medical attention, unconfirmed reports of a rogue Vegas stripper lodged in his colon, and recently, news that Dimora had an aneurysm behind one lung. But a walker? That was next-level performance art, and one, some speculated aloud, that could have used a touch more practice before opening curtain.
By late Monday morning, the concerns in the press room, besides guessing at Dimora’s theatrical future, had less to do with what his sentence would be — “long” seemed to be the safe bet — and more to do with the alacrity of the hearing.
“You don’t think this will go all day, do you?” asked one reporter.
“No, probably just ’til 1 or 2,” answered another.
“Good, I have a pickling class later today I don’t want to miss,” chimed in a third, who clearly had her priorities in order, but was destined to be disappointed as deliberations dragged into Tuesday.
Once a proud man who could utter “Show me the money” without irony or shame, Dimora and his defense team spent the better part of two days haggling over pennies. And justifiably so, since the Feds sought some $3 million in restitution. Still, it seemed pathetic, given the former commissioner’s prior life of largess when he had one use and one use only for singles (Dimora was never known as a big tipper).
On almost every count, the two sides battled over the prospective tab owed for each and every bribe, a back-and-forth played out over public access-quality TV that was as numbing as one would imagine, with rare exceptions. When Judge Lioi got to the charge related to a Beanie Wells jersey that Dimora purchased at an auction for $3,600 — which his wife was none too happy about — the defense team argued that the $3,600 handed over by William Neiheiser, president of Reliance Mechanical, to cover Dimora’s poor decision was irrelevant. What really mattered was the current estimated value of a Beanie Wells jersey.
The Whitaker father-daughter defense team cited a search of eBay that very morning which showed a high bid of $15 on one auction (this is what they call “lawyerin’,” kids). That sent a couple of TV reporters off on a frantic search of eBay to double-check the price of OSU and Arizona Cardinals jerseys (this is what they call “reportin’,” kids.)
“It’s actually $15.50,” said one perfectly coiffed news reader who clearly has no idea how the law works.
Lioi decided against the eBay precedent, tacking the full $3,600 onto Dimora’s running tab, which topped out at the incredible sum of $451,801.51 once every bribe, kickback and check had been accounted for.
It was all fun and games as the information creaked and moaned out over the course of the investigation and trial. Dimora was an easy target — in fact, had been for a decade. The trips to Vegas, the pictures of Jimmy’s municipal employee side beef, the tiki huts, the flat screens, the “Fucking you is a beautiful thing” quotes from the wiretap, the Karl Rove-Plain Dealer conspiracy, the Stonebridge slam pad, the anti-tapping devices, the free dinners — it was all good for a perverted laugh. In sum total, though, it was nauseating.
Faced with that stunning price tag for years of fucking you, the taxpayer, and staring down the barrel of 28 years in prison, Jimmy Dimora could not be bothered to apologize. He was innocent, and this was all a misunderstanding.
“I want to emphatically deny that I had any involvement in that type of illegal activity,” he said.
Sorry, shitheel, you did.
See you in 28 years.