Dimora schemed to give jobs for home improvements, prosecutors say at corruption trial

Peter Lawson Jones heard on wiretap call

Jimmy Dimora cooked up a scheme to get the wife of a union boss a pay raise and their daughter a summer job, as that union leader helped Dimora with home improvements at his Independence home. That's how federal prosecutors positioned their evidence Thursday in court.
 
Dimora's defense attorneys have not yet had an opportunity to cross examine the FBI agent, who talked the jury through hours of recorded calls, photos from Dimora's home, restaurant receipts and county employee personnel files.
 
Robert Rybak is the former business manager for the Journeyman Plumbers Union, UA Local 55. Prosecutors said he did work at Dimora's home in the outdoor pool area. In exchange, federal attorneys said Dimora secured jobs and pay raises for Rybak's union members, wife Linda, and daughter Dana.
 
Jurors listened to wiretaps for several hours involving Dimora and others, including former commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, about a raise for Linda.
 
At Dimora's recommendation, Rybak called former county employee J. Kevin Kelley about how to get Rybak's wife more money. They decided Kelley would call Lawson Jones about the request because 2008 was an election year for the former commissioner, and Rybak was set to hold a fundraiser for Lawson Jones' re-election bid.
 
The jury heard Lawson Jones request the increase be delayed until after the election.
 
"She'll have my vote and Jimmy's vote... if she can hold off for another few months," Lawson Jones told Kelley on the call. "I'm with you, but I'll do it then." Lawson Jones has not been charged.
 
The FBI also recorded calls between Dimora and former county administrator Dennis Madden about Linda Rybak's pay.

"I was trying to get Linda Rybak the position, the grade seven position," Dimora said to Madden.

"Somebody from the outside just applied," Madden replied.

That somebody got the position Linda Rybak wanted. Joe Nanni hired a woman who had previously worked outside the county. Nanni was the former director of the county human resources department, and today he is the chief of staff for the Cuyahoga County Council.

Linda Rybak seemed impatient about getting more money, and frustrated Nanni hired someone else as she talked with Dimora on a recorded call. Rybak and Dimora concluded the new hire must have known someone to get the position, because she was from the outside, and not formally "recommended."
 
But Rybak did get a raise in April, before the November election. Her pay went up to $25.83 an hour from $23.26 an hour, or up to $53,726 from $48,380 per year.
 
Meanwhile, in the early spring of 2008, Dimora was talking with Robert Rybak about his home improvements.
 
"How many times am I gonna do you a (expletive) favor?" Dimora asked Rybak on a wiretap.

"Your ice machine needs to be put in and blown out - what else did you need?" Rybak countered.

FBI Special Agent Kirk Spielmaker testified that ice machine referred to by Rybak, and seen in pictures shown to the jury, was installed in Dimora's outdoor retreat area, behind his Independence home.

While Linda Rybak got her raise in April, Rob Rybak delivered the ice machine stored at his union hall in May. Another wiretap between Rybak and Dimora showed how the two men joked with each other.

"You better answer the phone, or I'll never deliver that ice machine," Rybak said.

"It's already delivered, you ----head," Dimora laughed.

"We'll get you hooked up with one sunny day this week, I'll get over there and take care of that," Rybak said.

The jury also saw photos of a unique toilet in an outdoor bathroom at Dimora's home. Taken during the FBI raids, the photos showed a macerating toilet system. It's intended for outdoor use, meaning it's not connected to the house and the pipes run along the wall.
 
Prosecutors say the plumbing work in Dimora's outdoor upgrades were courtesy of Rybak.

In same call that Rybak talked about Dimora's delivered ice machine, he asked Dimora for summer employment for his daughter, Dana. Rybak also said maybe Dana could have work in another department instead of through Dimora's office,  to avoid "media attention."

Other options discussed for Dana's employment between Linda Rybak and Kelley included the engineer's office at Stonebridge or the sanitary division near the Rybaks' home during the summer of 2008 - the same summer FBI agents raided Dimora's home and office.

In addition to angling for more money for his wife and a paid summer internship for his daughter, Rybak also complained to Dimora on a recorded call that his union members were not getting hired by the county.

Within just a few weeks of Rybak's complaint to Dimora, two temporary, full-time plumbers from Local 55 were hired at $31 an hour.

Spielmaker also testified Rybak

had a $200 cash allowance each month from UA Local 55. Restaurant receipts were entered into evidence showing Rybak's notes. The notes listed people present at the meals, and the receipts shown in court said "Dimora."

Rybak made a plea deal with federal prosecutors last year. He was sentenced to serve 27 months in prison. His family was not charged.

The judge ended proceedings just after 5 p.m., so Dimora's defense team is expected to tackle a large chunk of Spielmaker's testimony, surveillance photos from Dimora's home, and many wiretaps in court Friday.

Earlier in the day on Thursday, the spotlight was on Dimora's co-defendant, Michael Gabor.

Joseph Gallucci testified Gabor delivered to him $2,000 cash for five months, while he remained a candidate for county auditor in 2006.

Gallucci said the entire race was a sham so former auditor Frank Russo would win the election unopposed. Gallucci ran as a Republican against Russo, a Democrat, but Gallucci withdrew his candidacy on Oct. 2.

Right after Russo's re-election, Gallucci got a county job. On the witness stand, he described his salary as "$67,000 and change."

Gabor also testified he received another $2,000 a month as a consultant fee from 1-888-Ohio-Comp, a managed care organization that handles cases for state's Bureau of Compensation. Businessman Sam Lucarelli owns 1-888-Ohio-Comp, and Lucarelli also founded Minute Men, a temporary staffing firm.

Lucarelli has not been charged.

Gallucci testified that Gabor also contacted him in November 2009, more than a year after the FBI raids, at the Parma car wash he owns. Gallucci said Gabor "was kinda agitated in his tone that day," and asked if anyone had contacted him.

Gallucci said Gabor told him: "You didn't pay for your job. I didn't pay for my job."

Gabor and Dimora have maintained their innocence of all federal charges.

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