AKRON, Ohio - Federal prosecutors on Monday afternoon said former county commissioner Jimmy Dimora interceded with a county judge to have a civil lawsuit fixed in favor of his "friend" and contractor, Steven Pumper.
James Newman, then-bailiff for Judge Bridget McCafferty, told jurors Dimora called McCafferty's office in spring 2008 and asked McCafferty or her staff intercede on behalf of his "friend" Steve Pumper who had "problems" with a civil case.
Pumper's company, D-A-S Construction, had been sued by Letter Perfect Group Inc., a contractor who, on behalf of D-A-S, did work on lockers at Cleveland Browns Stadium and had a dispute with D-A-S over a payment due for their work.
Shawn Newman, owner of Letter Perfect Group Inc., said stadium lockers were damaged by toilet overflow flooding during a Kenney Chesney concert and his company was hired to do the repair work by D-A-S for more than $660,000. Newman said he "had to fight with D-A-S to get paid" and eventually had to file a lawsuit against them for the money owed.
D-A-S received a partial payment in the range of $400,000 before the suit was filed, Newman testified. He said Pumper was trying to get Letter Perfect Group to accept $150,000 for the remaining amount due, but Newman was unwilling to accept the lower amount.
The lawsuit was assigned to Judge Bridget McCafferty. Her bailiff told the jury Dimora called seeking McCafferty's intervention on behalf of Pumper.
Wade Mitchell, an attorney for D-A-S, told jurors a telephone settlement conference was held at McCafferty's request.
"It was kind of an unusual way to do a settlement conference," Mitchell testified. "At the time, I believed it was fairly run. I didn't perceive any particular unfairness."
Mitchell said McCafferty would talk on the phone with one side and that party would go on hold while she talked with the other side. Each side would rotate on and off hold, checking in at five minute intervals.
Shawn Newman, one of the parties to the telephone conference, testified he picked up the phone at one point and heard what he described as a personal conversation between McCafferty and the D-A-S parties.
"I don't know why he thinks he's going to get what he is asking for. It just doesn't work that way," he testified, in reference to what he overheard being said in the conversation.
Newman said Letter Perfect Group eventually accepted a settlement of $190,000, much less than the amount owed based on the original agreement with D-A-S.
"The judge basically said, ‘You can take what you're going to get now, or take the same amount in October and pay all the legal fees it will take to fight that. I felt we were not going to get any progress," Newman told jurors.
Federal wiretaps previously revealed McCafferty had spoken with Pumper outside of formal proceedings. During one conversation after the settlement conference, McCafferty told Pumper she was trying to "get it out at $175,000" instead of the final agreed upon settlement of $190,000.
James Newman, McCafferty's former bailiff, said McCafferty appeared concerned the day of the FBI raids on county offices in July 2008. He said she told him she "might have some ethical problems with the Supreme Court" when she talked with Pumper.
McCafferty was charged and subsequently convicted on 10 counts of lying to the FBI. She is serving a 14-month prison sentence as a part of the federal corruption investigation.
During the afternoon, federal prosecutors called five tradesmen who testified they performed construction work for D-A-S on Dimora's patio, patio canopy, shed house, pizza oven and pool area. One worker testified he saw Pumper at Dimora's house while the tradesman was there doing work.
It is anticipated that prosecutors could call Steven Pumper to the witness stand as early as Tuesday. Pumper was the first to alert the FBI to the alleged activities of Dimora and Russo, and has pleaded guilty to federal charges in the corruption investigation.
Dimora and co-defendant Michael Gabor have maintained their innocence of all federal charges.
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