Dimora trial: Case of the 'disappearing witness'

8:45 AM, Feb 24, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Why didn't Ohio Ethics Commission director Paul M. Nick testify Thursday and why hasn't a defense motion made Wednesday been ruled upon publicly?

Attorneys for former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora filed a motion late Wednesday, asking to admit Dimora's financial disclosure forms from his campaigns into evidence.

Nick appeared too late to testify Wednesday and U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi met with attorneys from both sides at some length privately after he was told to come back Thursday.

Nick was seen entering, then leaving the building Thursday morning and he was not called as a witness. No reference to Nick or the motion has been made in open court.

No mention has been made in open court regarding the disclosure forms either, forms that are required by state law to be filed annually with the Ohio Ethics Commission, forms where elected officials must name givers of gifts valued at more than $75 and meals of more than $100.

According to the four-page motion, attorneys Andrea and Bill Whitaker asked the court "...to allow for the admission of Mr. Dimora's financial disclosure statements with the Ohio Ethics Commission. The financial disclosure forms are central to Mr. Dimora's defense and will be used to refute the government's contention that Mr. Dimora intended to hide relationships with people that the government contends have bribed Mr. Dimora."

Dimora's attorneys say that a "..significant portion of the government's theory of the case to date has been based on the argument that Mr. Dimora and others hid their associations and operated beyond the eye of the public."

The motion refers to Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon's opening statement for the prosecution in early January that "...clearly laid this theory out when she described the "rules" of conspiracy. One of those rules was to be secretive."

"These financial disclosure forms are being offered to refute the government's continuous claims that Mr. Dimora and others intended to hide their associations."

The motion continues "...These documents demonstrate that the disclosures were made and that there are available several different ways for any citizen, news agency or investigatory agency to seek copies of the reports....they demonstrate Mr. Dimora's willingness to disclose the names of the individuals included in the reports."

"...It is the fact that the reports were filed, and publicly available, and that they included identification of individuals whom the government has argued that Mr. Dimora sought to keep hidden or private..."

"...These forms will show that year after year Mr. Dimora completed these forms and disclosed a list of people. The entries on these forms do not in any way purport to build Mr. Dimora's veracity or character of truthfulness. Instead, they are relevant to refute the direct implications that the government has created in regards to Mr. Dimora's participation in a small circle of people all involved in an overarching conspiracy conducted behind the public's eyes."

"These financial disclosure forms are being offered to refute the government's continuous claims that Mr. Dimora and others intended to hide their associations," the motion reads. "These documents demonstrate that the disclosures were made."


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