AKRON, Ohio - Once the most powerful man in Cuyahoga County politics, Jimmy Dimora sat in apparent disbelief when he learned he was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.
Minutes before he learned his sentence, Dimora made a statement to the court and it was the first public statement he has made since well before the trial.
Dimora continued to maintain his innocence.
"The county has lost no taxpayer dollars for any decision that I cast," Dimora said. "I feel very good about everything that I done ... I have no regret or reservation on anything that I did."
Dimora said he never took any money, but did say that if someone "happened to buy me a meal, take a sporting event or give me anything of value," he made sure to report it on his ethics report, as required by law.
"I want to emphatically deny that I had any part of such activity," Dimora said about the other people who made plea deals and were sentenced in this corruption probe. "I didn't know that was going on I didn't know what friends of mine were engaged in."
Several times in his statement, the 57 year-old insisted he never voted on county business in exchange for anything of value. Dimora said he never pressured the other former commissioners, Tim Hagan and Peter Lawson Jones, to vote in any special way.
"It was an honor for me and a privilege to serve the residents," Dimora said. "I did that to the best of my ability. I did that honestly."
Dimora also became flippant. He said he knew the government spent a lot of tax dollars on the investigation and trial, but it seemed to him the government "created a mountain out of a mole hill."
When it came to talking about his family, Dimora choked up.
"I would hope you would not separate me from my family," he said. "At this stage of my life with my health issues … (he paused, and sobbed) I love my wife very much – (he cried and wiped his eyes.) I give her great credit for raising three great kids," he said through tears.
There was another long pause as he cried, and then ended his statement to the court with, "I can't…."
The judge then went on to sentence Dimora.
When he found out he was being sent to federal prison for 28 years, he stood up in shock, despite his health conditions that brought him to the courthouse in a wheelchair, and into the courtroom with the aid of a walker.
Investigator Sarah Buduson reported a U.S. Marshal in the courtroom reached for her gun, and Dimora saw her do that so he immediately sat right back down, and took a deep breath.
If Dimora served all 28 years, he would get out of prison when he's 85. Meanwhile, his co-defendant Michael Gabor will be sentenced on Aug. 14 at 9 a.m.