AKRON -- In what could only be described as a "straight from the movies" moment, Plumbers Local 55 Realty employee Kevin Filko took the stand for only 14 minutes Friday afternoon in the trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora in federal court here.
But Filko's shaky voice and his clearly shaken appearance wasn't explained until he admitted in open court that he had not told everything he should have to the FBI when the FBI first interviewed him in the corruption probe.
"I didn't tell the FBI, I didn't tell them that I saw Jim (Dimora) there...Basically, I feel like a stool pigeon because I just, I can't lie, I can't lie under oath," Filko said.
In fact, it wasn't until the lunch hour Friday, just minutes before he was scheduled to testify, that he contacted Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Rowland and said he needed to speak to her before he was called to the stand.
Filko works for the Realty division of the plumbers local where Robert Rybak was the business manager.
Rybak, 54, of Independence, pleaded guilty already to bribery in this corruption probe and has served one year of his 27-month sentence in federal prison in West Virginia. He pleaded guilty to bribery and tampering with a witness.
Filko said his job is to take care of the landscaping at the union's buildings and said he has a salaried position and earns $36,000 a year.
He said Rybak had him go to then-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora's house in Independence and winterize the icemaker in Dimora's outdoor pool cabana.
The FBI had Dimora's home under surveillance and produced photographs of Filko and Rybak arriving at Dimora's home.
On the stand, Filko identified himself in the photos.
But that wasn't the part of the testimony that concerned Filko.
Filko also said he often did jobs in and around the union hall and sometimes Rybak had him set up a round table with eight chairs in the meeting room at the hall "for a card game for the boys," according to Rybak.
Filko said he did this a few times, mostly on Fridays, and that he would come in on Mondays and "clean up."
Rowland asked what he would clean up and Filko said "...just food and beer cans that needed to be thrown away..."
Then Rowland asked about Filko's FBI interview.
Filko said that he was questioned by the FBI and did not admit to the FBI agents then that he had seen Dimora in attendance at the poker games.
Filko said he didn't want to tell anyone that Dimora had been there.
Filko met with Rowland before his testimony Friday and told her the truth.
Filko also admitted that Rybak sent him to work at Rybak's own personal rental properties, Rybak's home and Rybak's boat, all while Filko was being paid his salary by the union's Realty department.
Dimora, 56, of Independence, has been charged with more than 36 counts, including accepting kickbacks, bribes, money, services, trips, meals and entertainment. He has also been charged with racketeering.