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Akron: Russo expected to testify in former judge's trial

10:36 AM, Mar 22, 2011   |    comments
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AKRON -- Day one of testimony ended just after 6 p.m. Monday in the trial of former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Bridget M. McCafferty here in federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi.

Prosecutors are expected to bring former Cuyahoga County County Auditor Frank Russo to the stand Tuesday. Russo is facing 22 years in prison but has made a plea deal with prosecutors.

McCafferty, 45, of Westlake, is accused of lying to the FBI regarding two cases in her court where she allegedly intervened after conversations with then-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Russo.

But the first order of business Tuesday will be the questioning of a juror who, according to one of McCafferty's attorneys, gave a "thumbs up" allegedly to U.S. Assistant Prosecutor Antoinette Bacon as he left the courtroom.

Most of those in gallery said they didn't see the gesture but one person in the courtroom said they thought the juror had just tripped and indicated afterwards that he was "OK" by gesturing.

After opening statements by both sides Monday, testimony came from FBI Special Agent Michael Massie regarding the wiretaps on phones during the ongoing corruption probe.

It is now known, through Massie's testimony, that the FBI has more than 44,000 wiretap conversations on audio tape. Of those, 7,500 came from Dimora's home phone and cell phone.

Massie also acknowledged that county corruption probe began in July, 2007.

He was followed on the stand by Shawn P. Newman, president of Letter Perfect, of Medina.

Newman's company, also known as LP Design Group, did work on the Cleveland Browns Stadium as a sub-contractor for D-A-S Construction Co. after the July 14, 2007 flooding in the stadium during the Kenny Chesney concert.

Letter Perfect ended up suing D-A-S, of Garfield Heights, for money it was owed and that Pumper, who testified Monday following Newman as part of his plea agreement, about conversations he had with Dimora and McCafferty to settle the case.

Prosecutors allege Dimora asked McCafferty to intervene in the case.

Pumper, who pleaded guilty to nine charges, including lying to the FBI, mail fraud, wire fraud, and bribery, and has a plea agreement with federal authorities, testified that it was his understanding when he called Dimora about the case that Dimora would call McCafferty to help settle the case in his favor.

The corruption probe went public on July 28, 2008 when nearly 200 FBI and IRS agents raided the homes and offices of businesses and elected officials. So far, more than 50 people have been charged.

Dimora maintains his iinocence and will go to trial in September.


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