AKRON -- Businessman Ferris Kleem spent more than two hours Wednesday morning testifying about his business and personal relationship with Jimmy Dimora.
Kleem detailed instances in which he and Dimora interacted, including phone calls, meals, and trips.
His testimony is seen as key in establishing the prosecution's claim that Dimora was willing to sell his influence in exchange for things of value.
"I would expect that he would do me favors and he always did," Kleem said of Dimora, when he went to the then Cuyahoga County commissioner for help in securing a federal grant for a project at Coe Lake in Berea.
Kleem testified that he turned to Dimora when Kleem's brother needed help at his restaurant.
"My brother Tony had a smoking violation at Tony K's," Kleem told the court, "and I asked Mr. Dimora to interfere."
Speaking about making plans for the now well-known April, 2008 jaunt to Las Vegas with Dimora, Frank Russo, and others, Kleem said he purposefully watched his words in discussing details on the phone. "I never trusted telephones," he revealed.
Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Rowland why he was being careful in his telephone conversations, Kleem replied, "I'm a contractor and he's a county commissioner and it just wouldn't look right."
Kleem said he was willing to cover much of the cost of the four-day trip to Las Vegas, including $5,000 per man in gambling money for Dimora and Russo and $1,000 each for first class airfare to and from Cleveland.
"I'm Lebanese and I'm very generous," Kleem explained.