AKRON, Ohio - The man who was once a close confident of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora has been sentenced to 10 years and one month in federal prison on corruption and racketeering charges.
Michael Gabor, 53, was convicted last March of paying $5,000 to former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo to obtain a job in Russo's office as an inspector in the weights and measures division.
In Tuesday's sentencing hearing, federal prosecutors also reminded Judge Sara Lioi that Gabor funneled cash to Joseph Gallucci who, in turn, agreed to run against Russo in a sham election--helping to ensure that Russo would win re-election.
Gabor turned to his wife and family after the sentence was handed down and appeared to reassure them that he's "alright"--but he declined to speak on his own behalf when asked if there was anything he wished to say.
Defense attorney Leif Christman later said he advised Gabor, who insists he is innocent of all charges, not to speak and that he will appeal the case.
Later Christman said one of the key issues in the upcoming appeal will include being forced to go to trial with Dimora.
"I would have liked to have had my own trial," said Christman. "We just couldn't get out of Dimora's shadow and we got rolled up in the wash."
During the hearings, Christman argued for as little as two years in prison, claiming that Gabor was a minor player, who was led astray by corrupt politicians.
Federal prosecutors asked for 15 years in prison for Gabor, insisting he tried to cover up his crimes, and willfully and knowingly joined in the corruption.
Gabor's wife appeared to dry her eyes several times during the sentencing and was surrounded by family and friends as they left the courthouse. Many of them wrote letters to Lioi, asking for leniency and describing Gabor as a generous, kind man who was slightly naive.
Gabor has been incarcerated since his March conviction and appeared much thinner than he was just five months ago. His attorney confirmed that Gabor has lost approximately 40 pounds while in prison.
Lioi called Gabor "an enigma"--someone who was clearly brought up with good values, but who "turned his back on his working class" roots and lost his "moral compass."
Gabor has asked to be sent to a federal prison in either Morgantown, W.Va. or Loretto, Pa. to remain close to his family.
Federal prosecutors objected to bot,h saying Russo will be serving time at one of those locations and other corruption figures are already at the other.
Lioi said she will leave it up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to make the decision.