AKRON, Ohio - A federal jury found Michael Gabor, a former Cuyahoga County employee and intermediary for former commissioner Jimmy Dimora, guilty of participating in a criminal enterprise.
The jury of seven men and five women returned the guilty verdict at 12:38 p.m. on Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi read each charge against Gabor. The jury found him guilty of nine of ten charges, returning a not guilty verdict on one charge of Aiding and Abetting a Hobbs Act Extortion. Lioi completed reading her verdicts at 12:43 p.m.
Lioi advised the jurors at 1:00 p.m. they are to report back to the court at 9 a.m. on Tuesday to hear an additional matter related to the case. Three of the five alternate jurors were required not to report on Tuesday, but they were not dismissed from the case. Attorneys were advised to report for a hearing on Monday.
The judge also warned jurors about heightened media attention and not reading or talking about the case.
Gabor was the sole co-defendant in the trial with Dimora. Jurors found Dimora guilty of 37 of the 38 charges filed against him. Dimora was found not guilty of one count of mail fraud involving a scheme related to Dimora using campaign money to pay for his wife's 50th birthday party at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon at 1:05 p.m. requested that the court revoke Dimora's bond and take him into custody.
Bacon told the judge Dimora's sentence for the offenses could extend "well into double digit years" and "considering his age and seriousness of the offense" the government considered him a flight risk. She said prior "delays and attempts at delays" by Dimora's counsel should also be considered in the revocation request.
Dimora defense attorney Bill Whitaker told the judge Dimora is "no danger to the community and no risk of flight" and that he has been "courteous and diligent" in his interactions with court officials. Whitaker said other defendants convicted in cases related to the federal corruption investigation have not had their bonds revoked and they have not been taken into custody.
Whitaker also told Judge Lioi that the actions of Dimora's attorneys in requesting delays in proceedings should not be held against Dimora in the judge's decision on whether or not to revoke Dimora's bond.
Defendant Michael Gabor was found guilty of nine of ten federal charges. Gabor's attorney, Leif Christman, asked Lioi to allow Gabor to remain free on bond as the forthcoming proceedings related to the trial continue.
Lioi recessed the court at 1:24 p.m. to consider the revocation request.
At 1:50 p.m., Judge Sara Lioi ordered the bonds revoked. Both Dimora and Gabor were taken into custody by federal marshals. Dimora's hands were cuffed and linked with chains behind his back, and Gabor was placed in regular handcuffs.
The trial began more than seven weeks earlier on January 12. Gabor took a back seat in the trial as prosecutors focused their case heavily on Dimora, periodically bringing in testimony and evidence related to Gabor.
Leif Christman, Gabor's defense attorney, said Gabor "fell in a vat of raw sewage" when he went to work for Cuyahoga County. He said Gabor helped Dimora cheat on his wife, but Gabor's activities with Dimora did not rise to the level of a federal crime.
"Yeah, he helped him cheat on his wife. Not cool. These are things that are dirty. There is a big difference between smelling horrible and being the object of a conspiracy," Christman told jurors in his closing argument.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon told jurors in her closing argument rebuttal that Gabor knowingly participated in corrupt activities when he came into county employment.
"Michael Gabor jumped in feet first," Bacon told jurors.
Jurors heard testimony from 65 prosecution witnesses and seven defense witnesses for Dimora, but no defense witnesses were called on behalf of Gabor. Prosecutors admitted hundreds of pieces of evidence including photos of Gabor at a private topless pool at a Las Vegas hotel and testimony claiming Gabor attempted to bribe a county judge with $10,000 to fix a divorce case in Gabor's favor.
The jury deliberated for close to 40 hours before returning their verdicts.
Gabor faced 10 crimes charged in eight counts, and Dimora faced 38 crimes charged in 34 counts, of federal conspiracy, bribery and related charges. They both maintained their innocence of all federal charges throughout the trial.
Prosecutors charged Gabor with one "umbrella" charge of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for crimes performed in as a part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Other counts included charges related to bribery, extortion, obstruction and fraud.
Of the 38 crimes, federal prosecutors charged Dimora with 17 charges of Hobbs Act Extortion. The law involves circumstances where a public official uses his or her office to obtain money not due
to the official for the performance of the public official's duties.
Dimora also faced seven fraud-related charges, six charges of bribery, four charges involving filing false tax reports, two counts of falsification and one count of obstruction. Prosecutors also charged Dimora with one RICO count .
In his closing argument, Christman encouraged jurors to separate Gabor from Dimora when deliberating Gabor's fate.
"Think of it as a wall between us. You have to use your common sense," Christman said.
In an apparent reference to Gabor's defense calling no witnesses on his behalf, Christman told jurors it is not possible to provide a witness to testify that his client did not give someone a bribe.
"We presented our case through the government's witnesses. We can not prove a negative, can't bring somebody in to prove Michael didn't give a bribe," Christman said.
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