AKRON, Ohio - Federal prosecutors on Wednesday morning told jurors that former commissioner Jimmy Dimora violated the public's expectation that public officials will be public servants.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon told jurors that for Dimora, "public service was self service."
"It was not only a dark world, it was a criminal world. For years, they kept the door to the dark world closed," Bacon said as the government began presenting its closing arguments.
Bacon said Dimora and former auditor Frank Russo could not do it all alone. They needed the help of co-defendant Michael Gabor.
"It wasn't as easy as having a cash register on their desk or putting on a button saying ‘public official for sale,'" Bacon told jurors.
Bacon began walking jurors count-by-count through each of the 37 federal indictment counts against Dimora and those counts against Gabor. She said the counts were grouped based on "who's buying" Dimora's official act.
Prosecutors told jurors they would need to consider the numerous schemes they presented over five weeks in which they claim Dimora received things of value in return for an official act.
"Things of value" could include tangible and intangible items to personal services from prostitutes, Bacon said.
"This wasn't a coincidence. There was a connection," Bacon said. And she said Dimora and others were "trying to hide connections."
Prosecutors told jurors the crimes include bribery, fraud (including mail or wire fraud), obstruction, conspiracy and tax fraud. Acts that involved interstate commerce, those outside of the State of Ohio such as the Las Vegas trip allegedly funded by a contractor, are also included in federal charges.
Bacon explained three key legal points she said jurors must remember:
- "Things of value": could include money, services, tangible items, intangible items and promises alone.
- "Official act": any decision or action expected of the public official including a formal vote, informal behind-the-scenes acts.
- "In return for": could be testimony, timing, secrecy, obstruction, quantity, value.
Bacon told jurors it did not matter if the defendant actually committed the crime to be considered part of the conspiracy.
"Commit the crime or don't commit the crime, when conspirators are working together they are still conspirators," Bacon said.
Bacon also said it was clear Dimora was given things of value and did not steal them.
"Dimora didn't break into Blaze Construction and steal this stuff. It was given to him," Bacon told jurors.
At one point, Bacon told jurors Dimora was "king of the county."
At the conclusion of Bacon's morning presentation at 11:40 a.m., prosecutors had filled in a "conspiracy pyramid" with photos of 20 alleged conspirators and parties referenced in the prosecutions' presentation of each indictment count.
A similar pyramid presented in the prosecution's January opening arguments was filled in with many of the same players, although Bacon's closing pyramid had one notable change on Wednesday with the addition of Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney, whose picture was in the prosecution's closing pyramid although he has not been charged.
Dimora and Gabor have maintained their innocence of all federal charges.
NewsChannel5's Chief Investigator, Ron Regan, was in the courtroom at the beginning of closing arguments and will be giving live reports from Akron on NewsChannel5's 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. broadcasts.
Also continue to monitor newsnet5.com for updated trial developments from our Web team.