Dimora trial: Witness testifies that judge was bribed

1:07 PM, Feb 2, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- One of the prosecution's two key witnesses, J. Kevin Kelley, returned to the witness stand, giving clear, concise, rapid-fire testimony about bribes, favors, and Jimmy Dimora's co-defendant in this trial, Michael Gabor.

Gabor, 52, of Parma, is charged with bribery and conspiracy, while former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, 56, of Independence, is charged with about three dozen counts, including bribery, conspiracy and taking kickbacks.

Both have pleaded not guilty and maintain their innocence.

On one count, Gabor, a former office assistant in Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo's office in the weights and measures department, is accused of allegedly paying off Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Judge James P. Celebrezze $10,000 to fix his divorce case, with Kelley delivering the money in cash to Mark Dottore.

Celebrezze's lawyer, Michael DeJohn, has said that Celebrezze was never offered a bribe and never took a bribe and never fixed a case.

Dottore did the receivership work for Celebrezze in domestic relations court and was involved in the Gabor's 2005 divorce case. Gabor's wife, Dina, was represented by attorney Joseph Stafford.

Kelley testified that Gabor's wife had filed for divorce and he was in the process of a divorce hearing. Kelley said Stafford had a restraining order against Gabor's family deli in Maple Heights, an order that prevented the deli from being sold.

The deli was up for sale and there was a buyer.

Kelley said Dimora "...said to me, see if you can take care of this for Michael Gabor...(Gabor) told (Dimora) he would be willing to pay $10,000 to get this hold lifted..." Kelley testified.

Kelley testified that he told Dimora he would get hold of Mark Dottore. Kelley testified that he "...met with Mark Dottore and he said he would get back to me but that it wouldn't be a problem..."

Two days later, Kelley said Dottore "...contacted me within a day or so and said he could get it done...Gabor then gave me an envelope with $10,000 in cash in it and I took it down to Dottore's office....at Dottore 's family business (1-888-OhioComp)..."

According to court records, Celebrezze granted the lifting of the order. Then Stafford immediately filed an appeal, saying Celebrezze couldn't do what he did without a hearing and that there was a conflict of interest.

Just days after the appeal was filed, Celebrezze recused himself from the case and the court appointed a visiting judge to the divorce case.

Kelley said Gabor was upset because ".....he was expecting the judge to stay on and rule in his favor on everything on the case..." Kelley testified.

Kelley said Gabor became agitated and asked for his money back. Kelley said then "...Gabor was complaining to everybody that I had screwed him on this issue.."

Kelley said he went to Dottore's office at the family business and asked for Gabor's $10,000 back. Kelley testified that Dottore "...climbed up on his desk, moved a ceiling panel, took out a gun, then $5,000, gave me the $5,000, then put the gun back..."

Kelley said Dottore said that $5,000 was all he had left of the money. "...Dottore said that was all he had left...so I assumed he gave the $5,000 to the judge....to make it all go away..." Kelley said.

Kelley said Gabor was still mad that he didn't get all his money back so "...I managed to scrape together $5,000 over the next few months to give to Gabor so he would stop complaining to everyone about it.."


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