AKRON -- A current and a former Cuyahoga County judge testified Monday about their dealings with Jimmy Dimora, accused of public corruption.
Judge Tom Pokorny, who served on the Common Pleas bench for 18 years before his retirement, took the witness stand first. He said first then-Auditor Frank Russo called him, then Dimora called him regarding funding cuts to certain programs.
Pokorny, who at the time of the call was the Cuyahoga County Court Administrator, said it was unusual for a county commissioner to contact him regarding planned budget cuts. Dimora called about the proposed cut of $500,000 to a local halfway house called Alternatives Agency Inc.
Several people who have pleaded guilty in the county corruption investigation say they used Alternatives Agency to funnel money to themselves and that they paid for favors for Dimora so that he would restore taxpayer money to the agency's funding.
Pokorny said Dimora encouraged Cuyahoga County judges to maintain funding for halfway-house type programs, including Alternatives Agency. Funding was to be cut at the end of 2007.
Current Cuyahoga County Judge Nancy McDonnell, who serves as the court's administrative judge, then testified that, in November, 2007, plans were made to cut $500,000 from the halfway house budget.
She said Dimora then called her and asked her to put the money back in the 2008 budget. McDonnell said it was the first time Dimora had ever called her about such a matter.
McDonnell said she and fellow judges and court personnel discussed Dimora's request and decided to put $250,000 back in the budget for Alternatives Agency for 2008.
"We decided that what we would do is that we would restore half of the money for the coming year and the contract would end after that," the judge told the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi.