Kleem: "I put $6,000 each in plain white envelopes"

6:45 PM, Jan 18, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Blaze Building owner Ferris Kleem connects the dots on the Vegas trip and thousands of dollars in plain white envelopes, in the corruption trial of Jimmy Dimora.

Kleem testified about how he paid bribes and arranged the April, 2008, trip to Las Vegas for Dimora, then-Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, and others.

Kleem said the trip was April 6-9 and he met with Dimora and Russo at Teamz restaurant in Middleburg Heights on April 2. Teamz is a restaurant Kleem owns.

Regarding surveillance cameras, Kleem said there were cameras "...all over the restaurant except in the banquet room, except that room...and that's why we met there in that room."

Kleem said any meetings at Teamz with Dimora and/or Russo were held in the private banquet room.

Kleem said that before he went to have lunch with Dimora and Russo, he "...put $6,000 in cash in two plain white envelopes, $6,000 in each..."

He said he made sure Russo did not see him give one envelope to Dimora and made sure Dimora did not see him give one envelope to Russo.

"I tried not to let one or the other know, so I handed envelopes to each (in private) and told them what they were for," Kleem said.

Kleem said that $5,000 of the $6,000 was for Dimora and Russo to gamble in Las Vegas and $1,000 was for the first-class airfare.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Rowland asked why he did  that.

"It was an illegal act. I didn't want anyone to know," Kleem said.

Once in Vegas, Kleem admitted what the jury had already seen on Mirage Hotel & Casino surveillance camera video -- Kleem passing gaming chips to Dimora at the blackjack table.

Why did he do this?

"Two reasons. I wanted to make sure his bet was high enough to (qualify) for the casino (room) rate and...to continue gaining influence with him," Kleem said.

On those surveillance tapes, Kleem is seen passing a total of $3,425 worth of chips to Dimora.

"I did it for the same reasons I mentioned before, to continue in (Dimora's) good graces and for him to meet the limit for the suite," Kleem said.

Rowland asked Kleem if the topic of women came up before they went to Vegas?

"Mr. Dimora said he would like to get a girl when we were in Vegas, and I said 'sure'..." Kleem said.

Kleem also said he was going to arrange for a woman to come up to Dimora's room at the Mirage.

Once they were in Vegas, Dimora also reminded Kleem that "...hopefully Ronny can come up with somebody...," referring to Ron Ellwood, Kleem's casino host at the Mirage.

While Kleem was in the Mirage casino with Dimora on April 8 about 4 p.m., Ron called Kleem with the name and phone number of a woman for Dimora.

The woman, identified as Suzzanne Michaels, 41, met Kleem by the elevators in the Mirage before she went to Dimora's room.

Kleem said he paid Suzzanne $1,000 to go to Dimora's room and then told her that Dimora "is a very nice man but he's large" as he took Suzzanne up to Dimora's room.

Later Dimora called Kleem and Dimora said Suzzanne "...was good. She was a little chatty but good."

Dimora and Kleem were at a Chinese restaurant later that same night and Kleem said Dimora said again "...she talks a lot and I told her I was a county commissioner..."

Kleem said he was surprised that Dimora told her he was a commissioner.

When Rowland asked what service Suzzanne provided for Dimora, Kleem said they "...had sex or something along those lines."


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