CLEVELAND - Jimmy Dimora liked to invite people over to his Independence home in the summer when the pool was open. He often would entertain friends there.
So it was no surprise to anyone that Dimora was busy with home improvements, and that he may have let some of the billing slide as time passed -- because some of this friends were in charge of various projects in the pool area. That's what the former commissioner's defense team had argued at Dimora's federal trial.
The jury didn't buy it.
Home improvements were connected to several counts and the jury convicted Dimora on all of these charges. (The only charge Dimora was found not guilty on was Count 30, which accused Dimora of using campaign money to pay for his wife's birthday party.)
Federal prosecutors described the outdoor work as a transformation of a backyard into a "private resort-like retreat."
The pictures shown to the jury included a tiki hut, an outdoor kitchen area with a pizza oven and ice maker, macerating toilet system, brick work, granite work and more.
WEB EXTRA: See the proposed design for Dimora's pizza oven here: http://on.wews.com/JBuNeI
Contractor Steve Pumper was just one of Dimora's former friends who gave free or discounted home improvements. Pumper wanted Dimora's influence as a public official on county work that could be give to his companies, including D-A-S Construction.
Through D-A-S, Pumper gave Dimora more than $69,500 in total services from 2002 through 2007. But Dimora asked for a bill in 2008, at the same time the FBI investigation became evident. Pumper then billed Dimora more than $40,000 in 2008, but more than $29,000 had not been billed.
Pumper was the first in Dimora's circle to alert the FBI to illegal bribery involving Dimora and former auditor Frank Russo. He pleaded guilty to bribery charges.
Dimora also got free granite installed in the outdoor patio area, inside the kitchen, and in the master bathroom for about $3,250 by John Valentin of Salva Stone. Valentin pleaded guilty.
Several more people were involved in Dimora's home improvements, including Robert Rybak, the former union business manager of UA Local 55. He arranged for free plumbing work at Dimora's home.
Rybak's wife Linda worked for the county and got a raise that Dimora approved. They asked Dimora to get their daughter a paid summer internship with the county. Rybak pleaded guilty.
Dimora's wife Lori still lives in the home, valued at about $430,000. Dimora lost his interest in the Independence home in a forfeiture agreement. In return, the government will not go after Lori's half of the home. She is responsible for all upkeep, including taxes.
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