Dimora trial sees new witnesses about favors, wiretaps discussed

3:51 PM, Jan 20, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- FirstEnergy's Douglas Hogan was first to take the stand Friday morning in the Cuyahoga County corruption trial of Jimmy Dimora.

Hogan, shown entering federal court in Akron Friday morning with his attorney, testified that he was called in late winter or early spring 2007 by J. Kevin Kelley, of the Cuyahoga County Engineer's office.

Kelley said he was calling on behalf of Dimora to get Hogan to expedite electrical service to an apartment building under construction in Berea by builder Ferris Kleem.

Hogan said it was his job to help expedite and facilitate FirstEnergy's work in southwestern Cuyahoga County and western Lake County for public officials and others.

Hogan said he often got calls from officials to help with a street light or an electrical pole.

Hogan said that, after the service was expedited on a Saturday within two weeks instead of the eight weeks Kleem had been looking at, Dimora called Hogan and thanked him.

Hogan said Dimora told him that "I like to be able to do favors for my friends."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Kelley asked Hogan if, "in this case, you did it because Mr. Dimora had the call placed?" and Hogan replied "yes."

Kleem testified Wednesday and Thursday that he gave money and gifts to Dimora so Dimora could use his influence to assist Kleem with projects in Cuyahoga County.

The next witness was FBI Special agent Michael Massie, who has already testified earlier in the trial.

This time, Massie testified about the first wiretap on Kelley's phone on Dec. 21, 2007. Massie said the call was about Alternatives Agency, a halfway house on East 55th Street in Cleveland.

Massie also testified regarding a note of Russo's seized in the July 28, 2008 raid of Russo's office.

Massie said AA was getting its budget cut for its work release program and Russo was asked to help get the money reinstated.

Kelley has already pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors and is expected to testify against Dimora. Kleem has pleaded guilty to bribery and is awaiting sentencing.

Russo has pleaded guilty to 21 counts, been sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison and is cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of reducing his sentence.

For now, Russo is scheduled to start his prison term on Feb. 29, according to an order by U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi.

Dimora is facing more than 30 counts of bribery and racketeering and has maintained his innocence since being charged on Sept. 14, 2010 and arrested at his Independence home on Sept. 15, 2010.


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