Federal court: No tax money for Jimmy Dimora's defense

6:36 PM, Nov 10, 2010   |    comments
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Dimora told the judge that while he's not broke, he can't afford to pay the attorneys to defend him. Estimates put the cost of Dimora's defense at more than a half million dollars.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Rowland told the judge that Dimora still has money -- he just doesn't want to touch it. 

She said Dimora's got $40,000 in cash and can get up to $76,000 if he cashes in a life insurance policy and stock.

Dimora's attorney countered that Dimora's wife is entitled to half of proceeds from the life insurance policy and that cashing in it and the stock comes with early withdrawal and tax penalties.

The federal prosecutor also pointed out that Dimora's three adult children, whom Dimora says he still supports, have up to $90,000 in bank accounts they can live on while Dimora pays for his attorneys.

Then there's Dimora's home, which is paid off and worth an estimated $435,000, Rowland said.

"We have five healthy adults living in a paid-off $435,000 house," Rowland said, in arguing that Dimora, his wife and his children can earn money to support themselves.  

In court filings, Dimora said he's been unable to secure a bank loan or a mortgage to pay for attorneys because the government has put a lien on his house.

Rowland told the court that the government doesn't want to remove the lien because it will be used to recoup the $125,000 prosecutors say are ill-gotten gains from Dimora's corrupt activity.

O'Malley said it didn't make sense to have taxpayers foot Dimora's legal bills simply because prosecutors want to recoup the money if they convict Dimora.

"We're talking about robbing Peter to pay Paul," O'Malley said.  

In rejecting Dimora's request for a court-appointed attorney, O'Malley asked prosecutors to make it so Dimora can get a loan on his house so taxpayers don't have to foot the bill.

She said if Dimora can't get a loan, then the court will revisit the issue.









Dimora, a former county Democratic chairman and a Cuyahoga County Commissioner, has pleaded not guilty to taking bribes for nearly a decade in exchange for steering contracts and awarding jobs.

He will be out of a job when a new county executive takes over Jan. 1 from the current three-commissioner government.


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